Achieve optimum safety and productivity for autonomous mobile robots and collaborative robots
Modern manufacturing has become an information-transparent environment. It is designed to facilitate asset management and increase productivity. Often referred to as a cyber-physical production, this allows manufacturers to organize and optimize for Industry 4.0 initiatives. The collaboration of humans and autonomous machines in stationary and mobile applications is one element tied to autonomous production. However, this can be a challenge to implement with rigid machine safety concepts.
Autonomous production is facilitated by the implementation of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and collaborative robots (cobots). And as the use of these tools continues to grow, manufacturers are looking for a way to maintain safety without sacrificing productivity.
Intelligent safety systems designed specifically for AGVs or cobots allow the realization of application-specific safety concepts that also improve performance and productivity. SICK’s Safe EFI-Pro system is one of those systems.
Aligning Safety and Productivity
The Safe EFI-Pro system combines safety sensor, a safety controller, and safely connected actuators. It provides a comprehensive safety solution from a single source, using SICK’s Flexi Soft safety controller combined with an EFI-Pro gateway-enabled safety sensor, like the microScan3. It uses open Ethernet network technology to monitor the working environment, while the integrated safety controller activates the appropriate safety functions.
The standardized network technology of the Safe EFI-Pro System minimizes cabling between components. This guarantees a simple integration of the safety system into the control environment of the robotic application.
In addition, the EFI-pro interface based on EtherNet/IP™-CIP Safety™ offers optimum connectivity: it permits exchange of safe and non-safe process and diagnostic data across all machine communication levels. In the environment of Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the safety system also offers all the prerequisites for seamless integration of AGVs and cobots in autonomous production and logistics applications.
The microScan3 EFI-pro safety laser scanner is the central sensor component in the Safe EFI-pro system. Up to six devices can be networked for safe and adaptive environment perception. Each individual safety laser scanner offers up to eight, simultaneously monitorable, protective fields and up to 128 individually configurable fields and monitoring cases. With these numerous fields, you gain many eyes that guarantee complete environment perception.
Robot and vehicle movements can be monitored with a very high level of sensitivity. This significantly improves the availability and productivity of AGVs and cobots. The Flexi Soft safety controller activates the optimum protective function for the respective process in every situation. The Flexi Soft safety controller activates the optimum protective function for the respective process in every situation.
Using the Safe EFI-pro system, AGVs gain maximum safety and productivity. The system uses Safe Motion Control, a safe driving monitoring system from SICK, to enable situated-based, intelligent switching of monitoring cases depending on speed and steering angle. In addition, a large number of other safety-relevant factors for the vehicle can be taken into account in the monitoring cases, such as curve speed or braking distance. Drive safety functions such as safely-limited speed (SLS), safely-limited position (SLP), or safe speed monitoring (SSM) can be set up.
The Safe EFI-pro system also improves the productivity of AGVs. Simultaneous protective field monitoring reduces the time needed for switching monitoring cases. This makes it possible to reduce the size of protective field geometries, thereby increasing the efficiency of transport processes by better travel through curves or narrow spaces, for example.
The safeHDDM® scan technology of the microScan3 supplies precise measurement data that can be used for navigation and vehicle localization. The contour detection fields available with the microScan3 allow AGVs to detect working and docking positions and to approach these autonomously. This also permits realization of safe convoy travel or adaptation of fields to narrow aisles, for example. Additional sensors are not required for this – this saves on costs and integration effort.
Adaptive and situation-dependent motion monitoring with the Safe EFI-pro system in the world of collaborative robots makes a decisive contribution to safe, ergonomic, and efficient interaction with humans and the work environment. The intelligent functions of the microScan3 guarantee situation-adapted movement of the cobot, like when a person is approaching the cobot.
The safety system permits safe integration of robot controllers from different manufacturers via EtherNet/IP™-CIP Safety™. The automation systems for their part can provide safety-relevant information and functions relating to force and power limitation for the logic editor in the SICK Safety Designer engineering tool and for the central safety logic.