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Understanding the Essentials of RIA R15.06:2012

May 6, 2017

The new Robotics Industry Association (RIA) standard for robots and robot systems (RIA R15.06:2012) will have a significant impact on all businesses using robotic automation. It’s important that all businesses that utilize robots in their facilities are aware of the changes to robotic safety that have been brought about by this new standard update, and begin to set aside both funds and time in order to implement the new changes in an efficient manner.

We’ll address a few key points that any affected business needs to be aware of in the months following the January 1, 2015 effective date for RIA R15.06:2012:

  • The new RIA R15.06:2012 standard defined
  • The three primary game changing clauses that will have the biggest impact on businesses
  • What impact the three primary clauses will have on your business

The new RIA R15.06:2012 Standard Defined:

It has been fourteen years since the previous RIA Safety Standard was adopted, and a new set of guidelines has recently been developed to better reflect modern safety practices and hardware advancements made since the RIA R15.06:199 standard. This new revision will make automation systems even safer for workers.  RIA R15.06.:2012 has taken full effect as of January 1, 2015, and while not legally mandated, should be adhered to fully in order to meet best practices in robotic safety.

There have been many revisions to the 2012 version of RIA R15.06 compared to the 1999 iteration, the most significant of which are as follows:

  1. A total reorganization of the text presenting the ISO 10218-1 and ISO 10218-2 in their entirety. Both parts of the ISO documents are presented in one volume R15.06.
  2. Changes of selected terminology (e.g. reduced speed for slow speed, protective stop for safety stop), but not changes to functional requirements
  3. Additional requirements regarding new features offered on robots and the safe integration of the features
  4. Requirements for detachable and wireless pendants
  5. Change in clearance requirements
  6. The “Operator” applies to ALL persons performing tasks including maintenance and repair
  7. Requirements for collaborative robot operation (new feature)
  8. Functional Safety– A change in requirements to define and quantify safety control circuitry
  9. Safety Rated Soft Limits (SRSL) – A change in the approved control of robot motion to include newly developed safety-rated soft axis and space limiting
  10. Mandatory Risk Assessment- A Risk Assessment SHALL be performed and is no longer optional

The Three Major Game Changing Clauses of RIA R15.06:2012

The last three of the changes highlighted above, Functional Safety, Safety Related Soft Limits (SRSL), and Mandatory Risk Assessment, are the biggest “game changers” for transitioning from RIA R15.06:1999 to RIA R15.06:2012.

These three points are likely to have the biggest impact on your business in terms of cost impact, requirement of in-house resources, and personnel skill sets necessary to execute the changes. In particular, the functional safety requirement changes can involve significant investment in order to retrofit robotic manufacturing sections and reach the 2012 requirements.

Mandatory Risk Assessments can also be new to some facilities, and a third party consulting group may need to be contacted in order to properly conduct them; a risk assessment is at base level a simple process, but in order to properly note and mitigate all potential risks an educated peer review team is more effective than a team conducting a Risk Assessment for the first time.

How The RIA R15.06:2012 Changes Will Impact Your Business:

Conforming to RIA R15.06:2012 can require a change in the allocation of valuable time within your organization — Potentially taking time away from other important tasks depending on the size of your process. These changes also will require additional resources, ranging from safety experts and additional operators to programming, controls, and maintenance.

Increased liabilities are also a concern; without proper implementation of the new standard, there could be an increased liability for your organization.

If you have determined that you may not have the time, resources, or expertise to fully comply with the new RIA standard, you may consider outsourcing.

Consider this;

Some companies that provide consulting services also are associated with safety hardware manufacturers or may even sell safety hardware directly. They may come attached to a product agenda that could include purchasing their specific products.