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Humans and robots – a guaranteed safe team

KUKA Roboter implements maximum safety

12 September 2005

Augsburg/Essen, September 2005 – At Booth 130 in Hall 1, KUKA Roboter GmbH will be demonstrating how humans and robots can operate safely and efficiently as a team. KUKA Safe Operation and KUKA Safe Handling are the names of KUKA’s latest technology packages, which will make it possible for a human operator to work safely in a robot workspace.

From the manufacturing of exhaust systems to the production of shopping carts, KUKA welding robots are used wherever flexible processes are required. While remaining focused on the human operator, KUKA, the leading supplier of industrial robots, has managed to combine welding processes with its highly-developed hub technologies. KUKA Roboter GmbH is now unveiling the results of this development: an orange-colored future with humans and robots working as a team.

KUKA robots are team players

KUKA RoboTeam is the name given to KUKA’s cooperating robots. This hub technology concept is based on the intelligent networking of standard controllers. Each robot thus retains its own controller which communicates with those of the other “team members” via Ethernet. In this way, robots can exchange all relevant data and synchronize their motions with one another. The use of discrete standard controllers allows solution-optimized grouping of robots. There is virtually no limit to the size of the groups as processing capacity is no longer a constraining factor.

Robot groups are programmed using a shared teach pendant. This means that the amount of programming required always remains the same, irrespective of the size of the RoboTeam.

Originally developed for the automotive industry, RoboTeams are now also conquering other sectors. They have long since established themselves in the field of welding applications, as master/slave technology is meanwhile a standard in the arc welding applications from KUKA Roboter GmbH.

Humans and robots work as a team

At its booth at the fair, the market-leading industrial robot manufacturer is showcasing an arc welding cell with cooperating robots that can even form a team with a human. Two additional hub technologies, KUKA Safe Operation and KUKA Safe Handling, enable human/machine operations in the workspace of the robot with safety level SIL 2 or EN Cat 3.

A fully-synchronized RoboTeam, consisting of a KR 210, fitted with a KUKA gripper for picking up the workpiece, and two arc welding robots of type KR 6 ARC, with the latest Fronius process system, work as a team on the same workpiece. Using a manually-guided robot technology, the operator can inspect the weld seam while the operation is still in progress. 

Thanks to the KUKA Safe Handling technology, the human operator can enter the workspace of the robot, and work with it hand in hand – without needing to switch to “Test mode”, i.e. during the production sequence. The operator’s safety is ensured by means of redundant monitoring.

The KUKA Safe Operation technology reduces the space requirement within the cell. The significantly reduced reaction time in the safety module minimizes stopping distances.
Increased safety usually comes at a price – but not with KUKA. On the contrary, this high-tech safety system will eliminate the need for additional axis range monitoring systems.

About the KUKA robot group

KUKA Roboter GmbH, Augsburg, is a member of the IWKA Aktiengesellschaft Group (Karlsruhe) and ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots. Core competencies are the development, production and sale of industrial robots, controllers, software and linear units. The company is the market leader in Germany and Europe, and the number three in the world. The KUKA Robot Group employs about 2,000 people worldwide. Of these, 1,100 are employed in Germany, either at the KUKA Robot Group headquarters in Augsburg, or at various subsidiaries. In 2004, sales totaled 425 million euro. Over 20 subsidiaries provide a presence in the rest of Europe, the US and Asia.