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March 5, 2002

6 Min Read
Adopting the new robotics standard


By Thomas Moran, mgr. of corporate engineering, Automated Assemblies, and member of the Robotic Industries Assn., Standards Development committee.

The subject of the recently adopted robot standard often gives rise to more questions than answers. Some typical queries about the standard are:

•Who sponsored it, and who was on the team that developed it?

•When does it go into effect?

•What are the most important things I should know about the standard?

•How should I implement the standard?

•Who can help me?

•As a practical matter, what?s in the standard?

The following addresses each of these questions in an effort to help you be compliant with the ANSI standard:

Who sponsored the standard, and who was on the team that developed it?

The Robotic Industries Assn. (RIA) wrote the new industrial robot standard that was adopted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This new standard is ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999.

The process used by the RIA team was extensive. The draft team included engineers and businesspeople connected in some way with the use of robots, safeguarding, or manufacture. It also included robot users, safety equipment suppliers, robot manufacturers, robot systems integrators, component suppliers, insurance companies, and members from other committees. This cross-functional team met from 1994 to the summer of 1999 to draft the standard that was ultimately adopted by ANSI.

Many of the topics were addressed in subcommittees and then approved by vote of the full committee. Much care went into the wording of the standard to avoid misunderstanding or ambiguity. The team was genuinely concerned with getting the right information communicated in a form that would be useful to the reader.

Table 1: Sample compliance document

The Paragraph column identifies the paragraph number in the actual standard. The Standard column identifies the first key words in the paragraph?s title. The Compliance column describes how the manufacturer, integrator, or user complies with that paragraph.






For reference only.



For reference only.



For reference only.


New or remanufactured robots

Newly manufactured robots were incompliance as of 6/1/01 as per the standard.


Rebuilt or redeployed robots

XYZ Plastics Co. does not rebuild robots as a practice; if it does it will comply with the 1999 standard.

When does the new standard go into effect?

The standard has a progression of dates for compliance depending on the circumstances. The general provisions of the standard were in effect on or before June 21, 2001, as were those for rebuilt and remanufactured robots. New systems ordered in 1999 but delivered in 2001 or 2002 must be compliant by June 21, 2002. Existing workcells must comply with the standard in effect on the date of their installation.

What are the most important things I should know about the standard?

1.It should be reviewed prior to ordering a new robot. Get a copy of the standard and read it and its appendices. Be sure to allow and take the time required to specify a compliant system. Specifically ask your robot supplier, ?Are you in full compliance? Can you provide a document stating the robot is in full compliance??

2.A cell layout should be designed long before the installation. Create a multifunctional team that includes an engineer, process person, production person, and maintenance technician. The team should consist of no more than five to six people. Have the team complete a risk assessment (RA) for the cell. Compare the RA to the cell layout, correct the areas not in compliance, and then complete the exercise again. This process is iterative and designed to eliminate or reduce the hazards associated with the cell. Molders may want to consider doing this exercise with an audit of ANSI/SPI 151-1, as both are safety related.

3.The standard is not a penalty! Its writers hope it is useful, answering more questions than it creates. Its intention is to create and promote a safe workcell for the benefit of the users and the company that owns the equipment.

Allow the purchaser the time it takes to specify a compliant system. Specifically ask your robot supplier, "Are you in full compliance? Can you provide a document stating that the robot is in full compliance?"

How should I implement the standard?

In most cases a review of the standard with the system?s integrator can be very helpful. It is also best to notify the system integrator that you expect a compliant cell. Write a compliance document that identifies each paragraph and how the cell is compliant (see Table 1). This allows a person to take inventory of the knowns and unknowns and to list areas that need attention. A full risk assessment should be attached. The standard outlines a method, forms, and examples. The team heading up the effort at any level might consider attending one of the RIA risk assessment workshops. These workshops are well attended by varied manufacturers that give the attendee a multiperspective team with which to work.

Who can help me?

RIA, your robot systems integrator, and the robot manufacturer can provide the information required. In some instances your insurance carrier may offer audits or assistance, often at no charge. The aim is to create a safe and accessible work environment.

As a practical matter, what?s in the standard?

•Guidelines on circuit performance --this associates a risk category with the type of electrical circuit reliability that is required.

•A definition of what documentation is required.

•Training requirements for personnel who use, teach, and maintain the system.

•Safeguarding alternatives and the requirements for each alternative.

•Requirements regarding installation of the robot.

•Requirements for the manufacture and remanufacture of systems.

•Definitions of terms.

•Performance of safeguards, their function, and other considerations.

•Risk assessment guideline and example.

•Enabling devices (live man switch) and attended program verification (APV).

•Safeguarding examples.

The new standard is readily available. Please use it to create a safe work environment. It should be used in conjunction with the other injection molding machine and robot (IMM/Robot) standards such as ANSI/Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) 151.27, Robots on Horizontal IMM, SPI AN116 SPI Robot Interface guideline, ANSI/SPI 151-1, and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910. Each workcell is different and has its own characteristics that must be reviewed, thought out, and documented by the user.

Editor?s note: The ANSI/RIA-15.06-1999 Industrial Robots & Robot Systems Safety Requirements documents are available through the RIA at (734) 994-6088 or via www.roboticsonline.com.

Automated Assemblies Clinton, MA
Thomas Moran
(978) 368-8914, ext. 8719 [email protected]

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