In the early days of the robotics industry, many assumed that the future was clear: robots would one day replace human employees in environments like factory floors, bringing with them a new era of profitability and productivity for even the smallest companies. Over the years, however, it’s become clear that this was never really the goal. Robotics isn’t about replacing human employees at all. Instead, it’s about supporting and empowering them – enabling them to work smarter, not harder, all the while.
This is especially true when you look at some of the key ways that organizations are increasing the safety of these dangerous or otherwise hazardous areas for the benefit of their workers – a move that brings with it a host of unique benefits and opportunities that are certainly worth exploring.
Increasing Safety With Robotics: Breaking Things Down
Over the last few years, industrial robots in particular have been increasingly used to complete those jobs that are considered “undesirable” for human employees for a variety of reasons. These include not only the types of menial and monotonous tasks that used to take up so much of their time, but also those jobs that are inherently dangerous as well.
Experts agree that robots and other automated systems can definitely help prevent not only injuries, but also adverse health effects associated with working in hazardous conditions. The most obvious example of this would be a robot that could quickly clean up in the event of a chemical spill, or one that could be trained to remove personnel from those dangerous areas altogether. But things go a fair bit deeper than this, too.
Warehouse robots can help lift heavy objects so that humans don’t have to, for example, directly addressing the types of back injuries that accounted for nearly 40% of all musculoskeletal injuries suffered at work in 2016 alone. The right use of robotics can also minimize incidents of falls when people are working at high levels, can help employers better manage worker fatigue issues and more.
A Safety-Driven Approach to Working With Robotics
Of course, none of this is to say that adding robotics to an industrial environment is a “silver bullet” in terms of safety. You still need to make sure these new resources are deployed in the right way, capitalizing on all of the benefits they’re known for while avoiding some of the ways that they could potentially make things less safe, not more.
Experts agree that one of the biggest considerations that companies need to make when purchasing robots involves designing their factory floor to accommodate these assets in the first place. Employers need to be able to envision the flow of traffic throughout the workplace, for example. They need to design the layout of a space in a way that allows workers to not only do their jobs, but to keep a safe distance from the machines as well.
Along the same lines, both employers and their employees need to understand the technical specifications of these robots in relation to how they must be deployed. You can never make the mistake of assuming that robotics are automatically safe just because a manufacturer built them to work around humans. That’s rarely the case and additional precautions are always necessary.
In addition to making sure that you’re matching the right robots up with the right tasks, you also need to be aware of technical specifications as they pertain to maximum allowable force, power output and even speed. Employees should be trained on not only how to work with the robotics equipment in an environment, but on how to work around them as well.
Studies indicate that out of all of the potential reasons why someone might get injured if robotics are in the workplace, human error is still right at the top. Therefore, if you really want to increase safety in the workplace with the strategic use of robotics, this is something that you need to address thoroughly and regularly for the best results.
If you’d like to find out more information about the major advancements taking place in terms of increased safety with robots, or if you just have any additional questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact us today.
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