Kuka collaborative robot

Collaborative Robot Risk Assessments

We understand that consistency and familiarity is important to you and that is why we guarantee you the same safety consultant throughout the whole of your project. This ensures you get the same level of service on every visit, the same friendly voice at the end of the phone and allows us to build life long relationships with you and your team. 

We have extensive knowledge around the safety of collaborative robots and a passion for ensuring they are used safely within industry. We have recently CE marked a number cobot applications, introduced into businesses, as a result of COVID-19 and we expect this demand to increase significantly in the future.

What safety is involved around a cobot?

Although there is lots of safety information available regarding collaborative robots, it is often overlooked due to the way cobots have been marketed.

Often sold as 'safe out of the box', this is true, until the tooling or gripper is attached to the end. This then changes the whole safety of the cobot and the safety of the application then needs to be risk assessed.

 

Installing a cobot safely requires a detailed risk assessment. Consideration should be given to the risks that may occur during the cobots cycle, its movements and the human interaction. As cobots are lightweight and portable they have a variety of uses within the same work environment. For each separate task and location, a risk assessment should be completed. 

How do you make a cobot safe?

Using a collaborative robot or a cobot, can come with some safety concerns. The type of tooling, the gripper or the work-piece that is handled can cause injury to those working alongside them.

 

The amount of force and pressure that can be exerted in a collision could result in injury. Different parts of the body can receive different forces and pressures and it is the scope of the risk assessment to define these points.

What is a cobot risk assessment?

When it comes to cobot risk assessments, the risk assessment process should follow the guidance found in the  international safety standards and collaborative robot safety standards;

  • EN ISO 12100 Safety of machinery - General principles for design - Risk assessment and risk reduction,

  • EN ISO 10218-2 Robot and robotic devices - Safety requirements for industrial robots -Robot systems and integration.

  • ISO/TS 15066 Robots and robotic devices - Collaborative robots.

The findings of the risk assessment will determine the corrective measures that can be applied. The risk assessment should be reviewed several times during the design and build of the cobot application.

There is a legal requirement for anyone who integrates a cobot (whether it be a system integrator or an end user) to conduct a risk assessment as part of the design, the build or the integration of a cobot into a machine. This includes both new and existing machinery. 

 

The risk assessment is one of the key documents used to assist with the overall CE marking process. There is also a requirement for the end user to meet the requirements of PUWER to ensure that the cobot application is safe and compliant.

cobot risk assessment, trapping point of a cobot

Why are risk assessments important?

Cobots are designed to work alongside humans, so we need to be aware of its movements, the end tooling and what the process involves.

 

As an employer you are required by law to protect your employees from harm. 

When we conduct the risk assessment on your collaborative robot application we:

  • Identify what could cause injury 

  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed 

  • Offer solutions to control or reduce the identified risk​​

When should a risk assessment be carried out?

Simply, the earlier the better!

 

There have been cobots implemented to work collaboratively but ended up in guarded cells in the same manor as a traditional industrial robot due to the lack of understanding of collaborative applications. These issues should have been highlighted in the design risk assessment stage.

Risk assessments are also required when:

  • Purchasing new equipment or machinery with a cobot as part of the process

  • Modifying existing machinery to allow for a cobot to be integrated.

  • The cobot is relocated to a new location. 

  • The cobot is given a new task or operation.