Why Your Robot Gripper Should be Collaborative

Is your robot gripper collaborative? Here’s why it needs to be.

This seemingly simple question is actually pretty complex! To answer it, we’ll have to consider three separate questions:

What does it mean to be “collaborative,” as opposed to merely “safe to use”?
What are the Gripper’s safety features?
What can we learn from performing a risk assessment?

Is the Robotiq Gripper Collaborative?

What’s the difference between “collaborative” and “safe to use”?

The term ‘‘collaborative’’ comes from the ISO standard ISO 10218. It was published in 2011, and describes the four types of robots that have been identified as collaborative so far. The main type is called ‘‘force-limited.’’ These robots stop whenever they feel a certain impact, and they include well-known models from UR, Rethink Robotics (Sawyer, Baxter), ABB (YuMi), and Fanuc (CR-35iA).

The same standard notes that to achieve robot safety requirements, you must perform a risk assessment. This process includes evaluating the different risks involved in the use of your specific robotic cell – regardless of what type of robot you’re using. In fact, whether it’s a force-limited robot, regular industrial robot, or a mix of everything, you still have to go through all the steps of the risk assessment and evaluate any potential sources of injuries to workers using the device.

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So the word ‘‘collaborative’’ really just describes a type of robot. It does not guarantee that the robot can be used safely in any environment or for any task. Even if some collaborative or force limited robots are certified by third parties, that doesn’t mean the specific application that the robot performs will be collaborative or safe for users.

That being said, it is pretty hard to identify what is collaborative and what isn’t. The important thing is to identify what’s safe to use and what isn’t safe in order to make the robotic cell compliant with collaborative standards. For more details on your robot’s use limitations (regarding force, speed, kinetic energy, etc.) you should refer to ISO/TS 15066.

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