As collaborative robots (cobots) continue to be adopted by industry for work alongside humans in production and assembly operations, another cobot technology has been developing along with it. This technology, based largely on speed and separation monitoring, brings collaborative capabilities to industrial robots. The idea behind this technology is to enable industrial robots to be used collaboratively, essentially freeing them from the fencing they are typically required to operate behind for safety reasons.
Automation World has been covering these collaborative technologies for industrial robots for the past few years (see the read/watch more links in this article). Now comes news from Veo Robotics, the supplier of the FreeMove 3D safeguarding system for industrial robots, that Gray Solutions, an automation services provider for the food and beverage sector, will include FreeMove as part of its collaborative palletizing systems for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.
Veo Robotics notes that CPG companies often use robots to stack products on pallets for shipments. Because humans often need to enter these palletizing workcells, instead of having to stop and start the robots each time humans to enter and leave the workcell, FreeMove’s 3D speed and separation monitoring allows robots to work alongside humans by automatically slowing and stopping the robot’s motion as necessary to ensure no contact with the human. The sensing capability of Veo Robotic’s FreeMove system extends beyond the robot to include any parts or materials being moved by the robot during operation.
Veo Robotics notes that FreeMove has been certified for compliance from TÜV Rheinland for ISO 13849 PLd Category 3. This safety standard applies to parts of machinery control systems assigned to provide safety functions.
Sam Janes, robotics engineer at Gray Solutions, said, “Veo’s FreeMove is the only product currently available with this level of safety design to unlock the true power of human-robot collaboration within the CPG market.”
According to Veo Robotics, its partnership with Gray Solutions comes “at a time of accelerating automation at CPG manufacturers and warehouse distributors as they look to address labor shortages and supply chain constraints while maintaining productivity. The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) recently reported that food and consumer goods companies are among the fastest-growing sectors for robot orders, with purchases up 29% in 2021 from 2020. Also, Automation World parent organization PMMI has released a report that shows cobot use among CPG manufacturers is expected to at least double in the next five years.