Purchasing a robot system? Ask your integrator these 5 essential safety questions

Nov 04, 2016

robot systemsIntroducing a new robot system is a heady moment for any workplace. These sophisticated systems can revolutionize your production process, setting new standards for consistency, precision, and quality.

As with any new piece of equipment, a robot system can also introduce new hazards. Knowing what questions to ask the robot system installer - the "integrator" can ensure the installation proceeds smoothly and the robot system operates safely long after the integrator has gone.

We asked WSPS safeguarding consultant Robert Vomiero what questions he would ask the integrator. Here are some suggestions, based on requirements that appear in CSA-Z434-14 - Industrial robots and robot systems.

  1. Will a risk assessment be carried out, and as the end user can we participate? Under the standard, the integrator is responsible for performing the initial risk assessment. However, the integrator may not fully understand your operating environment and miss some hazards. If it's not possible to participate in the risk assessment, then
    1. obtain a copy of the assessment
    2. compare the tasks and hazards identified against your own understanding
    3. review the recommended control measures, and
    4. share any concerns with the integrator.
  2. Has the manufacturer met its obligations under the standard? For example, do the robot(s) and controller(s) comply with Part One of the standard? This is particularly important when incorporating collaborative robots into a collaborative operation. Make sure you receive documentation confirming compliance.
  3. Will we receive a formal analysis of the control system's performance level? The term "performance level" refers to the reliability of the control system's safety components. With the analysis in hand, you can make sure the performance level matches what’s required by the risk assessment.
  4. Will the robot cell meet all minimum space and clearance requirements? For any manual operations occurring inside the safeguarded space without the appropriate clearances, have additional safeguarding measures been incorporated (i.e., safety mats, safety scanners or other presences sensing devices)?
  5. Have safeguarding requirements been met? For example: dimensions for barrier guards and safe distances for presence-sensing devices. Machine safeguarding requirements in other standards may also apply.
  6. Will the integrator verify and validate safety aspects of the robotic cell/system, and provide documentation?
  7. Will the robot integrator provide all necessary "information for use," including an instruction manual? Part 2, Clause 7 of the standard describes what information for use is required.

How WSPS can help

  1. For a quick overview of the standard, watch New Robot Safety Standard
  2. For a more in-depth understanding, sign up for Robot Safety: Decoding and Applying CSA Z434, a 1-day training course delivered in a public classroom or on site.
  3. For more comprehensive support, our safeguarding consultants can work with you to ensure robot systems are introduced and operate safely, deliver safety training, act as an ongoing safety resource, and more.