Human-robotic collaboration: What will OSHA say?

Safety lifecycle approach is best when robots and humans work in the same areas, say automotive and safety experts from Rockwell Automation.

08/30/2013


Assess risk assessment, determine safety system functional requirements, design and verify, install and validate, maintain and improve are elements of the safety lifecycle, according to Rockwell Automation. Courtesy: Rockwell AutomationHarmonized international standards on industrial robotic safety allow humans and moving robots to occupy the same space. Because safety standards allow robots and humans to co-operate, robotic manufacturers have responded. How can this provide advantages? Automotive and safety experts from Rockwell Automation answer several key questions and offer recommendations.

Best-practice guidelines

Control Engineering (CE): What are best-practice guidelines for human-robot interactions?

Chris Brogli, business development manager, safety, Rockwell Automation: When humans and robots interact in a shared space at the same time, customers should use a safety lifecycle approach when designing machinery safety systems. The safety lifecycle approach, pictured below, is an industry best practice that helps to ensure proper safety system implementation. Several safety standards—ISO 12100, 13849, 62061, and 61508, and IEC 60204—outline the requirements for each step in the functional safety lifecycle.

The first step is an assessment, which helps identify the risks to determine the best technologies, measures, and practices to minimize those risks. Developing a functional specification outlines what the various robot-human interactions could be in the shared space and how the system will operate in each mode of operation. The selection, design, and verification step helps ensure that the design is in-line to meet the requirements defined in the initial risk assessment. Validation is another step that is used to ensure that the safety system operates as intended.

George Schuster, senior industry specialist, automotive team, Rockwell Automation:
The safety lifecycle approach is the best way to eliminate hazards by design, especially when working side-by-side with robots.

OSHA’s response

CE: What will OSHA say as robots and humans work in the same space?

Schuster: There are two responses we can reasonably expect from OSHA. One is that OSHA as an organization may eventually make an official response regarding guidelines for robot-human interactions. Robot-human interaction can be a challenging area for OSHA to place guidelines around because as robot and safety automation technology continues to advance, it allows closer operator-interaction with moving equipment. Current OSHA specifications focus on the lockout/tagout approach. The second consideration is that OSHA responses will likely differ from one individual inspector to another based on his/her experience with robot-human interaction.

Brogli:
Rockwell Automation has been working with OSHA to educate inspectors and customers alike on robot-human interaction and safety best practices. As OSHA becomes more experienced and knowledgeable with robotic equipment and safety functions, the more prevalent robot-human interaction will become in the industry.

Cooperation creates tireless adaptability

CE: What are the advantages of robot-human collaboration?

Schuster: One advantage of robots and humans cooperating is the tools and technologies we have now that we didn’t have before. The combination of robot features such as strength, repeatability, and tirelessness with human skills of intelligence and adaptability is a game-changer for how manufacturing processes can be designed to operate more productively and how people and machinery can work together more effectively. For example, ergonomic issues are reduced when robots can execute certain tasks like repeatedly lifting large or heavy objects. In turn, we have seen and will continue to see more technologies that allow manufacturers to produce more product faster while removing the physical burden from operators and improving overall process flexibility.

Brogli:
Robot-human interaction improves productivity. It helps provide a smarter, safer system that is more flexible and can change from product to product through interaction from machine to machine and machine to person.

- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, mhoske(at)cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

See article on how a unified platform helps robotics for packaging below.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.