SICK is chic on factory safety and smartness
Increasingly, more and more factories turn to robotics for manufacturing and processing operations in the face of a shortage in labor. Yet with more robotics employed in manufacturing facilities the issue of worker safety has arisen: What if someone gets hurt when working with robots? SICK, a German company who took part in Secutech 2017, has the solution to make factories both smart and safe.
A typical processing unit usually has two robotic arms, one on the perimeters of the unit doing the pick-and-place operation, and one over the top of the unit adding things, such as glue or small components, to the product. When the robotic arms are working and someone comes in, accidents may occur in the absence of proper precautionary measures. “If a robot gets hurt or damaged, it probably is not that bad. But if someone gets hit by a robotic arm then the damage may be irreparable,” said Yolanda Chen, Marcom Deputy Manager with SICK Taiwan.
That’s where SICK’s technology comes in – a variety of laser and photoelectric sensors that detect human presence. In a typical deployment, one sensor is deployed at the foot of the processing unit, serving as the first line of defense so that when someone enters the perimeters of the unit, the first robotic arm will stop. Then another sensor is placed on the processing unit so that if someone reaches his hand over the unit, the sensor will detect it and tell the robotic arm to stop. “The sensors send signals to a central panel which will then inactivate the robotic arms,” Chen said.
Besides the above-mentioned scenarios, SICK’s lasers are also used for inspection purposes so that parts and components can be applied based on the exact details given by the system. “For example, say there is a gluing operation for shoe pads. Each shoe pad of the same size can be off by a few millimeters. Our lasers will detect that and tell the gluing system to apply the exact amount of glue on the pad,” Chen said.
Based in Waldkirch, Germany, SICK sells its products to all over the world. “We do not focus on a specific vertical market. As long as a factory needs automation and is keen on safety, they are our customer,” she said.