Robotic tool changer with integrated safety

Robot System Products in Västerås, Sweden presents a new, unique and patented solution for safe tool changing with robots. The new solution is a safety module with integrated safety logic circuit and software, which is mounted on the tool changer for safety supervision and control. This means that no modifications of safety relays etc. in the robot cabinet are needed. The smart tool changer takes care of everything.

To facilitate and enable the flexibility of robots in different applications, tool changers are normally used. A tool changer on the end of the robot arm, with a special connecting device enables the robot to switch between different tools. However, the gripping and holding of the tool must be safe and fulfill current standards and regulations.

Thanks to RSP: s patented locking device, TrueConnect™, the mechanical construction enables a strong and highly repeatable docking of the tool. In addition to the safe mechanical design, the logic controlling the opening and closing, or unlocking and locking also must be safe. Normally the robot cabinet is modified with special safety relays and switches to maintain safe tool changing. Such solutions imply cost and time and requires a lot of extra work with documentation to make sure all safety regulations are fulfilled.

The tool changer module with integrated safety from RSP takes care of all this. The safety module uses inputs from different sensors to detect the tool changer status, i.e., if the tool changer is empty or connected, if the tool is positioned in the parking station etc. Additionally, the safety module also covers features like automatic break of power to valves at emergency stop, 24 V switch of prior to tool change to prevent sparking between signal pins and tool attachment, automatic locking of the tool changer if a tool is stuck after opening command and many other features.

The safety module includes a safety board as well as a communication board for signal interfacing with the robot. The requirements of ISO13849-1:2006 Category 3 PL d ,are fulfilled by using double circuits for controlling the valves when unlocking or locking the tool changer. Full documentation of the unit is provided. The tool changer module with integrated safety is also patented in Europe, America and several other countries. -Safety has always been an important matter when it comes to our products and our design team has done an excellent job in developing this solution and getting it certified. This marks a new era of safe tool changers for robot applications, says Eddie Eriksson, vice president of Robot System Products.

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