;is revised regulation does not loosen any guidelines previously in place (see
Figure 1), but it does provide several new capabilities as a result of improving technology. ;ese new capabilities could not have been anticipated when the former
incarnation of R15.06 was created. It allows for many advantages that streamline
Some of the biggest changes in the new R15.06 industrial robot standard have
to do with safety-rated motion and the use of advanced programmable safety
devices. What this means is software is now allowed “safety-rated” control of various aspects of the robot’s function, limiting the area in which the robot operates
and the speed of robot motion. ;is is a departure from older standards in that
programmable safety controls were not allowed.
;anks to technological advances in safety controls, these long overdue applications now can be implemented safely. In the past, engineers designing these systems guarded for the maximum space, speed, and load of the robot (see Figure
2). With these changes, the physical footprint of new robot cells should shrink.
Coupled with the proper point-of-interaction safety devices, including automated
barrier doors, scanners, or light curtains, these cells may realize significant floor
Saving space is not the only potential benefit realized through R15.06. Advanced
robots with “safety-rated” control now can operate in the same areas as their human counterparts. ;is collaborative operation allows operators to interact during an automatic robot operation, greatly increasing productivity. Workers can
now load and unload robots, as well as manually drive the robot in some instances.
It is important to understand that not all robotic processes are safe enough
for workers to interact with. ;rough risk assessments, a company can consider
secondary hazards associated with the process and reduce or eliminate exposure.
A collaboration between a fabricating or welding robot and a human worker is
not suggested by R15.06. ;ose processes are best contained by automated barrier doors, which also minimize the robotic cell footprint, or some other limiting
Another key component of R15.06 is the use of risk assessments. Because every
robotic system is di;erent and has its own set of guidelines, it’s important to realize what guidelines are before risk assessment is conducted. Specifications such
as space and cycles need to be known. Integrators of new robotic systems will
be required to perform these risk assessments in an attempt to identify potential
dangers and ways to limit and eliminate them.
R15.06 is similar to ISO 10218-2 in that it takes a quantitative approach to hazard
identification. ;ese steps follow in line
with the changes made to ISO 13849-1
A performance level “d,” a quantitative level that specifies the ability of the
safety-related parts of the control system
to perform as designed, is required of all
robotic systems, as well as Category 3,
dual-channel architecture, unless a risk
assessment determines otherwise. Performance level safety and category ratings
o;er a much more measurably reliable
way to gauge safety.
As technology changed and improved,
it became necessary to update safety.
;e ratified R15.06 upholds the safest
regulations that are already in place, provides a more quantitative approach, and
looks to improve e;ciency by streamlining interactions between operators and
robotic systems through a collaborative
Eric Esson is national sales and marketing
manager, Frommelt Safety Products, 8900
N. Arbon Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53223, 866-
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