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ANSI/RIA Remains Widely Accepted Standard for Safety

by Jeff Fryman , Director, Standards Development
Robotic Industries Association

With fall upon us, the calendar schedule of safety-related activities has increased, signaling that it is time to get back to the business of safety.  Surveying the progress of activities to date, 2005 can be marked as a very productive year.

The American National Standard for robot safety, ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999, continues as one of the most widely distributed and accepted standards for industrial safety with over 12,000 copies in distribution.  This is an outstanding achievement regardless of what benchmark you use.  As many of you know, ANSI (the American National Standards Institute – the governing body for standards in the United States) requires that standards developing organizations review standards they are responsible for on a five-year cycle.  Obviously, if you add 5 to 1999, you know that such a review has taken place.  The decision taken was to not make any changes to the R15.06 – yet.

An international program to revise the ISO 10218:1992 (International Standard for robot safety) is ongoing and progressing well.  The first step in that revision project has reached the FDIS (Final Draft International Standard) ballot stage.  ISO/FDIS 10218-1 covers only the robot (which is Clause 4 in R15.06).  Part 2 (Robot System – Integration, Installation and Use) will cover the remainder of the R15.06 requirements.  Ultimately, the International Standard will be used as the basis for changes to the R15.06; but we are still talking several years hence.  However, that does not mean that nothing is happening on the home front.  So that the International Standard will be relevant for use in the United States, the R15.06 committee is getting active again to function as the US national ‘‘shadow’‘ committee to the international effort.  If you have a passion for safety, are interested in standards development, and are not yet active on the R15.06, now is the time to contact me and express an interest in participating.

Another development that will reach the ‘‘market’‘ first is a new Technical Report.  In reviewing the status of the R15.06, the committee did note that there was an area of concern that was not fully explored in the standard – the issue of teaching multiple robots within a single safeguarded area.  While not explicitly prohibited, it would be easy to interpret the requirements in the 1999 edition of the standard as discouraging it.  The committee felt it important to more fully explore this need and provide guidance to the robot users.  Therefore it was decided to develop a Technical Report on the subject of Teaching Multiple Robots.  The use of a TR is appropriate to this situation.  While not a standard, the TR allows a means to provide formal guidance within the scope of the existing standard.  The resultant Technical Report – RIA TR R15.106 – is now in final approval before publication.  The Technical Report will provide five sample cases or examples of acceptable safeguarding techniques which may be used in situations where it is necessary to teach multiple robots.

The new Technical Report will also contain several ‘‘interpretations’‘ regarding existing clauses within the R15.06.  These ‘‘interpretations’‘ are meant to clarify rather than change existing requirements in the standard.  You might look at them as ‘‘official’‘ answers to the top most ‘‘Frequently Asked Questions’‘.

Until next time – work safely!

Automated Imaging Association Motion Control Association