- Register


Home>AUTOMATION>Handling & Logistics>3D elimination
Home>AUTOMATION>Machinery Safety>3D elimination
Home>AUTOMATION>Robots>3D elimination

3D elimination

11 August 2022

When it comes to quick automation wins, looking at processes that contain at least one of the 3Ds – the dull, dirty or dangerous – is a good place to start, advises George Thompson, chairman of the British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA)

AUTOMATION SOLUTIONS come in a very wide range of sizes, shapes, applications and budget requirements. I know that I have started by stating the obvious, but I think it is important to emphasise that regardless of your requirements for an automated solution, it is highly likely that there is an integrator that will have just the solution that your business needs.

One of the quick wins for most companies is looking for areas where it could be possible to automate processes that contain at least one of the 3Ds – the dull, dirty or dangerous. There will be areas where it is challenging to retain staff for a particular process, many of which will likely fall into one of these categories. Personally, I like to target areas where there is a significant amount of manual handling. These areas do not need to be a heavy lift to fall into the Dangerous category, the repetitive nature, or perhaps the mechanics of the handling process could be causing the issue.

Workplace injuries

According to the HSE guidance, "Manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries. These include work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as pain and injuries to arms, legs and joints, and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts.

"The term manual handling covers a wide variety of activities including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying. If any of these tasks are not carried out appropriately there is a risk of injury.”

In fact, even the HSE Guidance on Manual Handling suggests that if handling a load cannot be avoided, then automation or mechanised operations should be considered.

As I have already mentioned, there are numerous ways to approach every task and a number of factors will need to be considered when thinking about the right approach to solve the issue. Sometimes, a robot-based solution will be the answer, however, there will be other applications where a special purpose machine would be a better approach for the task. Again, the solutions from different integrators will vary depending on their area of expertise and experience.

Robots, like the solutions, come in many different guises and the right solution for one company may not be suitable for another. There are collaborative robots, Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm (SCARA), delta robots, articulated robots and linear gantry robots. Regardless of the type that is selected, all must comply with the appropriate legislations, such as Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC; ISO 10218 parts 1 and 2 (Safety requirements for industrial robots); ISO 13849-1:2015 (Safety standard for machinery control systems), to name just a few.

Ignorance is no defence

How does this all tie into manual handling and the reduction or elimination of the 3Ds? Simplistically, ignorance of the requirements is not a defence in the eyes of the law whether you have a manual process requiring manual handling or a fully automated solution where the manual handling has been greatly reduced or eliminated.

Should these pieces of legislation be a barrier to implementing an automated solution? ABSOLUTELY NOT! These essential pieces of legislation set the standards that EVERY Automated Solution MUST adhere to and help to keep us all safe in the workplace.

If you would like to start your automation journey, but don’t know where to start – I would highly recommend visiting the BARA website detailed below where we have outlined several topics under the Expert Advice section to give some initial information. While you are there, why not register for our next Roundtable discussion? You could also watch some of our previous Roundtables again as there is likely to be just the information you have been searching for contained within the talks.