Human-robot Collaboration without Incident using the SRAP Safety System

Safety, flexibility, and productivity for human-robot interaction.

SRAP adapts operating conditions to the position of the person in its workspace.
SRAP adapts operating conditions to the position of the person in its workspace.

The Safe Robotics Area Protection (SRAP) safety system from SICK, a manufacturer of sensors, safety systems, machine vision, encoders and automatic identification products for industrial applications, is designed to provide process-based protection for collaborative robot applications. The safety system is made to provide machine operators with unrestricted, yet safe, access to a robot’s working area at any time, by adapting the operating conditions to the position of the person. These adaptive perception capabilities are meant to prevent the risk of accidents from occurring and simultaneously improve productivity. It is designed to reduce downtime and optimize the ergonomic and process aspects of the operator’s workflow.

The SRAP system consists of a Flexi Soft safety controller and a safety laser scanner—either the space-saving S300 Mini Remote for shorter scanning ranges or the microScan3 Core for larger monitoring fields. Safe Robotics Area Protection satisfies the criteria of Performance Level PL d in accordance with EN ISO 13849-1.

With prefabricated and tested software function blocks, the safety system is meant to be integrated easily and fit seamlessly into the controllers of all standard industrial robots, says the company.

The migration capabilities of the system configuration, plus the option of adapting it in line with additional safety functions, are supposed to make Safe Robotics Area Protection a future-proof safety system that enables flexible, autonomous machines and robots to adapt quickly and effortlessly to new production conditions, safety requirements, and protective field conditions that result from this.

Safety and productivity in harmony

SRAP combines the functions of a safety laser scanner—either the S300 Mini Remote or the microScan3 Core—with the possibilities offered by the Flexi Soft safety controller. This means that, based on the monitoring situation at the robot, differently dimensioned field sets should have the ability to be equipped with warning and protective functions in the laser scanners and dynamically adapted in line with a detected worker position.

Depending on how close the person is to the robot, the sensors cause the robot’s movement to either reduce or stop via the Flexi Soft safety controller—so that work pieces can be inserted or removed, for example. If the person then leaves the monitored area, the safety system is made to automatically start performing sequence monitoring.

Provided that this monitoring satisfies the requirements for operating the robot safely, the robot is first started up at a reduced speed and then returns to its original working speed once all the warning and protective fields are free again. This means that the worker should remain constantly protected against hazardous movements whenever entering the robot’s working area.

At the same time, the automated restart is designed to reduce downtime once a worker leaves the hazardous area, and also optimize the worker’s processes.

Versatile, integration-friendly, and future-proof

The company says the SRAP safety system’s versatility is a standout feature. It is designed to make it possible to factor in new working situations and conditions, and take account of non-safe automation functions and safety-related functions being carried out simultaneously—in the way that they have been prefabricated and tested.

In turn, this is meant to allow the safety system to be integrated into the most commonly used varieties of robot controllers with minimum integration work, using the function block provided. If other safety devices are added or additional safety functions become necessary during operation, the company claims these should be easily integrated later on.

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