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International Robot Safety Standard in Final Review

by Jeff Fryman , Director, Standards Development
Robotic Industries Association

Jeff Fryman, Director, Standards Development, RIAThe ISO 10218 International Standard for industrial robot safety is entering its last stage of approval prior to publication.  This decade long effort by representatives from ten countries over three continents will result in the first all new and complete International robot safety standard since 1992.  This milestone achievement will, in turn, put the effort to revise the current R15.06 National standard for robot safety into high gear.  All of these efforts should culminate in new published standards in 2011.

As a result of the latest ISO working group meeting in Stockholm, both ISO 10218-1 (the revision to ISO 10218-1:2006 for the robot only) and the completely new ISO 10218-2 (for the robot system and integration) are being prepared for release as Final Draft International Standards (FDIS) and formal approval balloting.  This process should be completed near the end of this year with publication coming next year.

The revision to the International Standard draws heavily on the experience and success of the United States’ robot safety standard ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999(r2009) sponsored by the Robotic Industries Association headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The International Standard has always been slanted toward instructions for the manufacturer, indeed the Part 1 document that was revised and published in 2006 was dedicated solely to the robot manufacturer.  It was basically the requirements that were contained in only Clause 4 of the R15.06 (one of 14 clauses in that document) with some new and exciting features and technical developments added.  Important information for the proper use of the robots was not included. 

Part 2 of the ISO document rounds out the necessary safety information for the robot system and the integration of robots into useful work cells.  Essentially it contains the rest of the R15.06 information.  The two documents together will give the international community the necessary information for proper robot safety that has been available to the United States and Canada (through their CSA Z434-2003 standard) for over ten years.

With the advent of a new International Standard for robot safety, what is happening in the United States with the R15.06?  Well the simple answer is that we are preparing to revise the R15.06. 

In 2007 the United States adopted the ISO 10218-1 as ANSI/RIA/ISO 10218-1-2007 but could not change R15.06 at that time because the Part 2 ISO document was not complete – actually it was still only in its early gestation stage.  We did bridge the gap in user information relative to the new features in the ISO standard with a Technical Report – RIA TR R15.206-2008.  So now we have R15.06, a complete document; or the ISO 10218-1 which stands in for Clause 4, the TR, and the other 13 clauses of R15.06 making up a newer but equivalent complete package of safety information.

The United States spent a lot of time and resources in supporting the revision to the International Standard.  We can now reap some of the rewards for that effort by adopting it as our National Standard.  This means the ISO standard will represent one standard, valid world-wide, and recognizing the global nature of industrial robot safety requirements and the industry itself.  Robots and robot systems designed and built in other countries will be fully compliant with the USA requirements and will be able to be used in this country.  This will correct a long-standing issue presented to a number of global companies with operations in the United States.  Likewise, robot systems designed in this country will be compliant with the requirements in other countries if a company chooses to move a cell or wants common cell designs throughout its global corporate operations.

How will we achieve this?  Well it will all be contained in one document – ANSI/RIA R15.06-2011.  The R15.06 committee has been actively following the work of the international committee and making appropriate inputs and comments to their work as the standards developed.  The R15.06 committee is now preparing the release of the first draft of the next edition of R15.06.  The draft will contain both parts of the ISO standards (Part 1 for the robot and Part 2 for robot systems and integration) as well as have additional USA unique requirements directed to the user.  The new standard thus will continue to address the three “stakeholders” that the current R15.06 standard addresses – the manufacturer, the integrator, and the user.

The new R15.06 standard will represent the “state-of-the-art” for industrial robot safety and robot work cell efficiency and productivity.  The United States promises to stay at the leading edge of robot safety technology while making our industry more efficient and competitive.  Keeping jobs, safe jobs, in the United States will be part of the success story coming from this new edition of the robot safety standard.

National Robot Safety ConferenceDo you want to learn more?  Well I certainly hope so, and have been planning just the proper introduction for the first draft release.  It will be the annual National Robot Safety Conference, this year held in Indianapolis, Indiana from September 27 to 29.  Everyone attending the conference will get a copy of the initial draft, as well as attending lectures and workshops highlighting the main points in the standard.

Details on the conference, including session, tabletop trade fair, registration, hotel information and more, can be found at http://www.robotics.org/safety10 or call RIA at 734/994-6088.

I hope to see you all in Indianapolis.  Thanks for listening (well actually reading); and be safe!


Interested in an Advance Update?

Robot Safety Awareness - Free WebinarJeff Fryman, RIA’s Director of Standards Development, gives an update on content and timing of the new standard. The free Robot Safety Awareness Webinar takes place August 12, 2010 from 3:30 – 4:00 p.m. EDT. Safety-related software and firmware-based controllers are a key issue to be addressed. More details and webinar registration.

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