Advancements in materials science and automation technology have revolutionized industrial robots. It has made them more powerful, versatile, and cost-effective. These robotic systems continue to expand their applications beyond traditional sectors like automotive production. Tt therefore becomes imperative to align safety requirements with these technological developments. To meet this demand, the EN ISO 10218 series of standards, which focus on safety requirements for industrial robots, has undergone a comprehensive revision. This blog post explores the key updates and enhancements introduced in the revised standards, aiming to ensure safety, compliance, and harmonization across industries.
Embracing a New Approach to Risk Assessment
The revised EN ISO 10218 standards embrace a new approach to risk assessment. In order to accommodate the diverse range of applications for industrial robots. It recognizes that similar applications may carry varying risk levels. And therefore rigid safety function requirements may not be feasible. Instead, the standards derive the Performance Level of safety functions from a comprehensive risk assessment. This takes into account factors outlined in ISO 12100. In turn, this approach allows for scalable solutions and ensures safety while considering the specific context of each application.
Robust Robot Design and Safety Measures
To ensure optimal safety, the proposed revised standards include specific requirements concerning the mechanical strength and materials used in robot construction. Considerations are made to minimize corners, edges, and protrusions, as well as to address wear and fatigue of materials. Additionally, the standards emphasize safe handling, storage, transport, and packaging of robots and components to reduce hazards during these processes.
Incorporating Functional Safety
Functional safety plays a vital role in ensuring safe industrial robot applications. The revised standards introduce additional functional safety requirements. Some of which are mandatory, others dependent on the functionalities provided, and others optional. The inclusion of a normal stop function, as required by the Machinery Directive, enhances safety measures for industrial robots.
Collaborative Applications and Safety Functions
Collaborative operation has been a topic of discussion in the industry. The revised standards clarify that there is no specific “collaborative robot” or “collaborative mode”. They focus instead on safety functions for collaborative applications. Hand guiding control (HGC), speed and separation monitoring (SSM), and power and force limiting (PFL) are the three safety functions detailed in the revised standards for safe collaborative applications.
Outlook and Future Prospects
The revised EN ISO 10218 standards are currently under evaluation by the HAS Consultant, and if the evaluation is favourable, they will proceed to final voting by ISO and CEN. Anticipated publication of the ISO standard is expected in the second or third quarter of 2023. Although some additional requirements of the new EU Machinery Directive are incorporated, certain aspects, such as the application of self-developing AI in safety functions, are not yet supported.
The revised EN ISO 10218 standards mark a significant step towards ensuring the safety and compliance of industrial robots in various applications. The updated approach to risk assessment, robust robot design guidelines, and the inclusion of functional safety measures reflect the industry’s commitment to providing safe, efficient, and harmonised robotic solutions. As the standards move closer to publication, manufacturers, integrators, and users of industrial robots can look forward to a comprehensive framework that prioritizes safety, quality, and innovation in this rapidly advancing field.