Forklift Safety Technology Works for Robots, Too
Automated pedestrian detection system keeps workers safe inside robot welding cells
Worker safety is of paramount concern to Kirchhoff, and its safety standards are exceptionally high, so management decided it needed to essentially eliminate the risk of anyone being injured by the automated high-speed robots. The company’s Chairman, Dr. Jochen F. Kirchhoff, explains why: “We have a social responsibility to our employees, and we focus on long-term success over short-term results. Our corporate culture and values are aligned with Christian morals like ‘love thy neighbor’ and ‘respect others as you respect yourself’.” Consistent with these values, Kirchhoff Mielec sought a safety technology that could prevent any possibility of robot-worker accidents inside its welding cells.
Successful and straightforward safety measure
How ELOshield Assures Worker Safety in Robotic Welding Cells
ELOKON placed detection antennas inside each welding cell, equipped workers with wearable wireless modules, and integrated a control module into each robot. The antennas cover every inch of the cells continuously with UWB signals.
If the system detects a person inside a cell, it automatically communicates to the control module, which prevents the machine from activating. Even if the cell door is closed and locked. In addition, the system flashes warning lights outside the cell to alert nearby workers that someone is inside.
“This has proved to be a very successful system,” said Ryszard Muzyczka, East Europe Regional Director of Kirchhoff Automotive. “Workers entering the cell feel much more confident now, as do the employees who activate the robots, since they can now be absolutely sure that no colleagues are at risk.”
“Integrating ELOshield into the machine control system was straightforward,” Muzyczka added, “and the system is simple and logical for the workforce to operate.”
The deployment of ELOshield on robots has been so well received at Kirchhoff, the company is planning to install the system in areas where forklifts deliver material to cells. This would allow both forklift drivers and pedestrian workers to be warned when they get too close to each other, avoiding collisions and injuries.