Machine guarding for the Robotics industry
We have over 30 years’ experience modular machine guards for robot cells and production lines tended by robots. We understand the issues and can provide standards-compliant guards that prevent workers from coming into contact with robots, while also allowing quick access to robots in the event of an unplanned stoppage or planned maintenance.
We offer modular guarding in a variety of specifications to suit different applications, plus we can design, manufacture and install bespoke guarding for areas where modular guarding is impractical.
Our capability extends beyond the design, manufacture and installation of the physical guarding to include related aspects of control systems – such as safety light curtains, laser area scanner, pressure-sensitive mats, guard switches, key exchange systems, emergency stop pushbuttons, and so on. If required, we can design and implement the complete safety-related control system, including on-site wiring and commissioning.
All of our machine guards for robotic systems are designed, manufactured and finished in our factory in South Wales, giving us complete control over quality and deliveries. The guards comply with all relevant standards; in Europe this includes the following as a minimum for robotic applications:
- EN ISO 12100
- EN ISO 14120
- EN ISO 13855
- EN ISO 13857
- EN ISO 10218-2
- EN ISO 11161
In addition, we comply with any in-house standards or codes of practice requested by the customer or end user.
Guards for robotics are usually assembled from standard modular components. However, for areas where standard components are unsuitable, we can modify standard items or design and manufacture bespoke items. For this, we utilise our state-of-the-art CNC punch press, press brake, welding and finishing plant. We can work in mild steel, welded wire mesh, aluminium, stainless steel, polycarbonate and other materials – for example, our acoustic enclosures incorporate specialist sound-dampening materials. Mild steel guards can be hot-dip galvanised and/or polyester powder coated for a high-quality finish and long-term protection against corrosion.
Note that our ISO 9001 Quality Management System covers the design, manufacture and installation of machine guards.
Why do robots need machine guards?
New machinery in Europe has to comply with the requirements of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Robot cells or production lines incorporating robots will normally be classified as complex assemblies of machinery and therefore need to be CE marked as a whole. The easiest route to compliance and CE marking is to apply the relevant harmonised standards, some of which relate to machine guarding. Markets elsewhere in the world have similar requirements for machines to be adequately guarded.
The question some system integrators and line builders ask is why they should outsource the machine guarding when they have the capability to design and manufacture it in-house? The main reasons for outsourcing the guarding to Procter Machine Safety can be summarised as:
- Save money – our specialists design and manufacture the guarding more economically than a system integrator or line builder
- Save time – our design and manufacturing teams are set up specifically for producing machine guarding
- Standards compliance – our designers have a detailed working knowledge of the relevant standards
- Avoid over-engineering – our design teams have a wealth of relevant industry experience and an unbeatable knowledge of what the HSE would expect to see in terms of reducing risks to ‘as low as reasonably practicable’
- Better resource utilisation – in other words, let your designers focus on adding value through innovation, rather than being tied up with guarding
Types of guarding
Robot cells and robotic production lines are typically equipped with modular perimeter guarding featuring steel posts and steel-framed welded wire mesh infill panels. However, different applications sometimes call for alternatives, so our complete range of guards for robotics is as follows:
- modular perimeter guarding with steel posts and steel-framed welded wire mesh panels fixed in such a way that rapid access is possible for planned and unplanned maintenance
- modular perimeter guarding with aluminium posts and aluminium-framed welded wire mesh panels fixed in such a way that rapid access is possible for planned and unplanned maintenance
- either of the steel or aluminium modular systems can have infill panels with sheet steel, clear polycarbonate, composite panels or tinted polycarbonate to protect against weld flash; panels can have a waist-height divider with the top and bottom halves containing different infills
- fully-enclosed acoustic enclosures that also perform a machine guarding function
- bespoke guarding for applications where a modular system is unsuitable, or just for small areas where it is more cost-effective to use bespoke elements than customised modular components
Comprehensive service for guarding robotic systems
Our end-to-end service covers all of the following, or you can just select the elements required:
- machine surveys
- site surveys
- risk assessments
- PUWER inspections
- stakeholder consultations
- installation – at convenient times such as overnight, at weekends or during scheduled shutdowns
- electrical integration of safety light curtains and other electrical items
- design of safety-related control systems
- modification of existing safety-related control systems to accommodate new safety devices
- ongoing support – such repairing or replacing guards damaged by mechanical handling equipment
System integrators and line builders often make use of our installation services for robotic applications. Benefits of our installation service include:
- highly experienced fitters
- large team of fitters enables installations to be completed very quickly
- our electricians connect electrical items in compliance with the necessary standards
- installation at times that are convenient for the customer and end user
- the system integrator or line builder can remain focused on the more technical aspects
If you are a system integrator or line builder requiring guarding for a robotic installation, contact us to discuss your requirements.