Mitsubishi Electric’s latest SafePlus robot safety system lets users upscale to a collaborative robot from an existing industrial robot. It allows users to convert any of the over 160 MELFA FR-series intelligent industrial robot models into a co-operative system.
Key features of the new SafePlus option include enhanced robot positioning and monitoring functions, and Blue Danube Robotics’ AIRSKIN® cover. AIRSKIN is a pressure-sensitive safety skin to reduce the robot’s force and stop it if a collision occurs.
Collaborative robot and co-operative robotic solutions that work together with humans are on the rise in the UK. They can support operators on the factory floor and enhance their output.
As human-machine interactions advance in sophistication robots need to work safely alongside human operators. Removing safety guards releases production space and increases productivity for individual production cells. To achieve this safely, co-operative robots (cobots) must detect intrusions into their working area and automatically slow down or stop.
Upscale to a collaborative robot
To support this, MELFA SafePlus makes it safer, easier, and more efficient to convert existing Mitsubishi Electric’s industrial robots into a collaborative robot without needing safety cages. The technology applies to both horizontal SCARA and vertically articulated arm robots used in a broad range of industries.
MELFA SafePlus provides safety monitoring functions that allow the robot to adapt to different conditions. For example, they can avoid certain operational areas when occupied by humans (Limited Range Control), stop (Safe Stop) or reduce their speed when human operators are in their vicinity (Reduced Speed Control). When the area is clear, the robot can return to its normal high-speed operation. This also reduces emergency stops and increases machine uptime, aiding productivity.
Increased reliability and flexibility
Safety logic editing, speed and positioning monitoring functions also contribute to a higher safety performance. The position monitoring function controls both the robot’s position and external movements in up to eight This allows the robotic arm to adapt its behaviour in real-time based on what is happening in its proximity. For example, the collaborative robot can reduce speed, avoid moving towards the obstacle or stop.
SafePlus now allows the user to programme asymmetrical safety areas around the robot where the safety distances differ. Moreover, objects lying in directions where the robot does not move do not create an obstacle. It reduces the safe distances in these directions and shortens emergency stop downtime and allows applications in tighter spaces. Configuring safety monitoring conditions and operating parameters in the robot controller avoids the need for specific safety CPUs.
Leading independent certification body, TÜV SÜD certified the safety measures used by SafePlus, to ensure compliance with international IEC and EN standards, such as EN 61800-5-2 on safe motion and EN 60204 on safety stop.
Increasing touch sensitivity
Besides the new functionality featured in SafePlus, Mitsubishi Electric has also optimised the safety monitoring and collision detection functions. It boosted the system’s collision detection capabilities by applying AIRSKIN safety pads onto its FR-series robots that integrate with SafePlus. The solution, compliant with ISO 13849 (PLe) and IEC 62061 (SIL3) safety standards, features a soft structure, designed to reduce the impact of the moving robotic arm.