The Robotics Industry Association (RIA) standard for robots and robot systems (ANSI / RIA R15.06:2012) created a significant impact on all businesses using robotic automation by comparison to the previous standard (R15.06:1999). Although it’s now more than six years after its effective date of January 1, 2015, these standards remain important to the safety of production workers using and working around robotic systems. While not legally mandated, they represent best practices in robotic safety and a significant step to minimize legal liability in the future.
Aside from reorganization, clarity of terms, and incorporation of new technologies, RIA R15.06:2012 presents three significant requirements that solidify its focus on operator safety.
- Functional Safety A change in requirements to define and quantify safety control circuitry.
- Safety Related Soft Limits (SRSL) A change in the approved control of robot motion to include newly developed safety-related soft axis and space limiting.
- Mandatory Risk Assessment Risk assessment SHALL be performed and is no longer optional.
These three points likely had the biggest effect on businesses in terms of cost impact, requirement of in-house resources, and personnel skill sets necessary to execute these changes when first enacted.
For facilities that were dormant or shuttered during the time of the change and beyond, the functional safety requirement changes can involve significant investment in order to retrofit robotic manufacturing sections to comply with the RIA R15.06:2012 requirements.
Mandatory Risk Assessments can also be new to some facilities returning to operation following an extended pause in operation. In addition to re-commissioning electrical and mechanical plant systems, a machine safety consultant may be required to conduct the risk assessment to note and mitigate potential risks for equipment that was safety compliant under the previous standard when last operational.
RIA R15.06:2012 Future Impact
Achieving and remaining compliant to RIA R15.06:2012 requires allocation of valuable time that may seem to take away from other important tasks of your process. Compliance also requires additional resources, ranging from safety experts and additional operators to programming, controls, and maintenance. But these costs can be small as compared to the cost of breakdowns, investigations, and settlements related to accidents, loss of personnel and litigation.
Regardless of their expertise, if your staff engineering and technical resources are constrained, and if your production schedules are tight, outsourcing of compliance work may be the fastest and least disruptive choice.