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ROBOTIC RESOURCES

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New RIA Technical Report on Robot Safety

by Jeff Fryman, Director, Standards Development
Robotic Industries Association

If you have not already seen it, soon you will see the announcement that the Robotic Industries Association has introduced a new Technical Report, R15.206 providing Guidelines for Implementing ANSI/RIA/ISO 10218-1-2007.  Of course this is always exciting news when we release a new document, particularly because of the effort of a large number of individuals that goes into producing them.

What is this new Technical Report all about, and why do we need guidance on a standard?  Well I’m glad you asked <grin>!

ANSI/RIA/ISO 10218-1-2007 is the adoption of the International Standard ISO 10218-1:2006 as an American National Standard.  This new standard provides safety guidance for the robot, but only the robot.  The current American National Standard for robot safety – ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999 covers not only the robot but the complete robot system (installation) and talks to a variety of stakeholders including robot manufacturers, safety equipment manufacturers, integrators, installers, and ultimately the users.  The ISO standard only talks to the robot manufacturers and only covers provisions for the robot.  The new ISO standard does not replace the R15.06 standard, but does provide a potential substitute for clause 4 – the robot – in R15.06.  It does not replace the other 13 clauses and 5 annexes of R15.06!  The new ISO standard also introduces some new optional features for robots that are not addressed in R15.06.  So the stage is set – we need guidance on how to implement substitute language and optional features within the current guidance for robot safety contained in the R15.06.

How do we implement, how do we use, the “Next Generation Robot” presented to us in the International Standard?  The Technical Report R15.206 tells us!  And what it tells us is that it is okay to use robots that are manufactured to be compliant with the International Standard.  It is okay to introduce new capabilities to the work place.  It is okay to move ahead with new technologies, and new and innovative applications.

Whereas the R15.06 covers the entire issue of robot safety including the robot and the full system, the ISO committee responsible for the 10218 document chose to take a two step approach, one for the robot and one for the system.  The first step is complete, and the second step is progressing well, but is not finished.  ISO 10218-1 or Part 1 has been adopted as a harmonized standard in Europe, and also officially adopted as national standards in the United States and Japan.  Other adoptions are pending.  Since the Part 1 or robot only portion of the standard embraced the key safety requirements contained in the R15.06, the good news is that any robot produced anywhere in the world that is compliant with the ISO 10218-1:2006 meets the minimum safety requirements of the R15.06 and is suitable for use in this country.  That was not the case for the now retired 1992 edition of the international standard.

The RIA sponsored subcommittee responsible for producing the R15.06 safety standard in the United States has been closely monitoring the work of the international committee developing the ISO 10218 standard.  The committee will not make any changes to R15.06 until the international work is complete, and that is still a year or more away.  However, the timing difference of the release of the international Part 1 and Part 2 standards presents a problem to anyone wishing to use the new optional features allowed by the requirements in Part 1 for the robot manufacturer, since the integration, installation and use information will be covered in the not yet released Part 2.  These new and desirable optional features also are not covered in the R15.06, so the committee decided that some of the information being prepared for Part 2 needs to be shared before it is published internationally.  Thus the new Technical Report was developed - RIA TR R15.206-2008.

There are many more similarities than differences between the ANSI/RIA/ISO 10218-1 and the ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999.  The Technical Report has been limited to highlighting the subtle differences, both in terminology and in requirements.  It is intended to provide positive guidance and reassurance to integrators, installers and users that implementing new systems with new robots and new optional features will still comply with the requirements outlined in the R15.06 standard.

If you are thinking about new systems, or simply upgrading an existing system, then you want to check out what is available in the way of safety and productivity enhancements with new robots now available which comply with the new national and international requirements.  The new Technical Report – RIA TR R15.206-2008 as well as the ISO standard – ANSI/RIA/ISO 10218-1-2007 is available from our on-line bookstore at www.robotics.org.

While the new Technical Report will be a major topic of discussion at the twentieth anniversary edition of the National Robot Safety Conference, October 6 - 9 in Indianapolis, Indiana, many other topics and speakers will be presented.  Won’t you join us?  Learn more: Click here for details.

Editor’s Note:
-For safety training of employees right at your facility, check out RIA In-house Training Seminars, click here for details.

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