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A Glimpse into the National Robot Safety Conference, 2017

The hallways of the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh were bustling with engineers and safety professionals during the annual National Robot Safety Conference this year. For three consecutive days, technicians, Environmental Health and Safety Professionals, roboticists, and robot end-users crowded the main stage on the 17th floor learning about various topics pertaining to robot safety.

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RIA Director of Standard Development Carole Franklin welcoming conference attendees.

Overview of the 2017 National Robot Safety Conference

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RIA Director of Standard Development Carole Franklin leading the audience in a “Standards Bingo.

Standards “Bingo”

Day one kicked off with a game of “Standards Bingo” allowing the audience to playfully identify the various standards terms, abbreviations, codes, and titles referenced throughout the upcoming presentations. Carla Silver at Merck & Company Inc. presented a “Top Five List” of what safety professionals need to remember to be successful, followed by information on the RIA system integrator certification and an overview of the current safety standard and technical reports. RIA’s recent alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was introduced at the end of the day by Christopher Robinson, followed by a Q & A session with the audience.

New User Panels and Case Studies

Day two saw several user panels and case studies covering all aspects of safety when working with robot applications. Risk assessment was a topic that weaved into a majority of the presentations, an important topic due to the number of potential safety hazards and the different types or interactions a user might have with the robot system.

“Safety for Integrated Manufacturing Systems” led by SICK Inc.’s Chris Soranno and a “Collaborative Robot Systems” panel featuring Bob Bollinger at Procter & Gamble, Troy Uahinui with Toyota, Jeff Pratt and Bill Moellenkamp at Crown Equipment Corporation highlighted the main stage.

After the 3 hour exhibitor expo, day two concluded with a user panel focused on “Mobile Robots and Autonomous Vehicle Safety” presented by Jeremy Marvel from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Mitchell Weiss at Seegrid Corporation and Rob Kuchta at Giant Eagle.

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Craig Salvalaggio with Applied Manufacturing Technologies and Gerd Walter with Creative Automation presenting on “Robotics System Integrators: What You Need to Know About Robotics & Safety.”

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Chris Soranno with SICK, Inc. presenting “Safety for Integrated Manufacturing Systems”

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Troy Uahinui with Toyota, Bob Bollinger with Procter & Gamble, Jeff Pratt and Bill Moellenkamp with Crown Equipment Corporation in a Collaborative Robot Systems User Panel.”

Three Breakout Sessions

During the three separate safety tracks on day three, the isolated topics focused on “Traditional Robot System Safety”, “Collaborative Robot System Safety” and “Robot System Safety for EHS Professionals.”  Topics including functional safety and using robotic applications in the workplace were stressed in breakout one, while breakout two and three saw topics on how to implement safe design for collaborative applications and traditional robot safety. Each breakout session finished with a lively Q & A session with the audience allowing for further discussion and networking.

This was the 29th annual National Robot Safety Conference. If you want to find out more about safety and how it affects your work and robots make sure to attend next year. Contact Sofia Nordenstam (snordenstam@robotics.org) at the RIA for more information.

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Breakout session attendees during the Collaborative Robot System Safety Session.


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