Multi-axis industrial robot braking distance measurements : For risk assessments with virtual safety zones on industrial robots

University essay from Högskolan Väst/Avdelningen för produktionssystem (PS)

Abstract: Industrial robots are increasingly used within the manufacturing industry, especially in collaborative applications, where robots and operators are intended to work together in certain tasks. This collaboration needs to be safe, to ensure that an operator does not get injured in any way. One of several solutions to this is to use virtual safety zones, which limits the robots working range and area to operate within, and may be more flexible than physical fences. When the robot exceeds the allowed limit of the virtual safety zone, a control system that monitors the robot position, forces to robot to stop. Depending on the current speed and payload of the robot, the initialized stop has a braking distance until the robot has completely stopped. How far the separation distance between human and robot must be, is calculated using ISO-standard guidelines when doing risk assessments. To support affected personnel in their work, an investigation and experimentation of braking distances among several robots has been conducted. These testing experiments have been designed to simulate a collaborative operation which is an excessive risk in a robot cell. The tests have been performed with various speeds and payloads, for comparison between the robot models and for validation against already existing data. The difference with this study compared to existing ones is that several robot axis’ are used simultaneously in the testing movements, which is a benefit since a robot rarely operates with only one axis at a time.  Main results of the performed tests are that the robot doesn’t obtain speeds over 2000 mm/s when axis 1 is not involved, before the virtual safety zone is reached. Axis 1 can generate the highest speeds overall, and is therefore a significant factor of the braking distance. The results and conclusions from this thesis states that these kinds of tests give useful information to the industry when it comes to safety separation distance and risk assessments. When applying the information in a correct way, the benefits are that a shorter safety separation distance can be used without compromising on safety. This leads to great advantages in robot cell design, because space is limited on the factory floor.

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