01 June 2022
Novel Approach Using Risk Analysis Component to Continuously Update Collaborative Robotics Applications in the Smart, Connected Factory Model
Building on the idea of Industry 4.0, new models of the highly connected factory that leverage factory-generated data to introduce cost-effective automation and involve the human worker for creating higher added value are possible. Within this context, collaborative robots are becoming more common in industry. However, promises regarding flexibility cannot be satisfied due to the challenging process of ensuring human safety. This is because current regulations and standards require updates to the risk assessment for every change to the robotic application, including the parts involved, the robotic components, and the type of interaction within the workspace. This work presents a novel risk analysis software tool that was developed to support change management for adaptive collaborative robotic systems in the connected factory model. The main innovation of this work is the tool’s ability to automatically identify where changes have been made to components or processes within a specific application through its integration with a connected factory architecture. This allows a safety expert to easily see where updates to the risk assessment are required, helping them to maintain conformity with the CE marking process despite frequent changes. To evaluate the benefits of this tool, a user study was performed with an exemplary use-case from the SHOP4CF project. The results show that this newly developed technology for risk assessment has better usability and lower omission errors when compared to existing methods. Therefore, this study underlines the need for tools that can help safety engineers cope with changes in flexible robotics applications and reduce omission errors.