This section provides overview, applications, and principles of enabling switches. Also, please take a look at the list of 6 enabling switch manufacturers and their company rankings.
An enable switch is a switch that is incorporated in, for example, a teaching pendant for industrial robots and serves as a safety device. When the enable switch is "ON," it means that the operator is operating the teaching pendant with clear intention.
By controlling the robot to allow manual operation of the industrial robot only when it can be judged that the operator is operating the robot with a clear intention, as described above, unintended robot operations are prevented from being executed. This leads to the protection of worker safety.
Enable switches are safety switches mounted on devices (teaching pendants) used to operate equipment such as industrial robots.
Normally, production equipment, including industrial robots, is surrounded by safety measures so that there is no room for workers to enter and be involved in the operation of the machine.
However, in situations where the operator enters the safety measures and operates the teaching pendant, such as when starting up equipment or when a problem occurs, a system is needed to protect the operator from the machine's operation.
This is where an enabling switch comes into play. The enabling switch on the teaching pendant must be turned ON to prevent the machine from moving no matter what the operator does. By ensuring that operations are executed only when it can be judged that the operator is operating with clear intent (enable switch ON), the operator can be protected from unintended and dangerous operations.
Typical enabling switches operate in a three-position system.
Normally, most switches are two-position "ON / OFF" switches. However, enable switches to have a 3-position "OFF / ON / OFF" button operation.
Position 1 is a free state where the button is not touched, and the contact is OFF. Naturally, no matter what operation is executed, the robot will not move.
If the button is pressed in lightly from this state, the state shifts to position 2. In this state, the contact is turned ON. Since the contact is ON, the robot will move according to the executed command. At this point, if the hand is released from the button, the state transitions again to position 1 and the moving robot stops immediately.
From position 2, pressing the button in more strongly moves the robot to position 3. In position 3, the contact is OFF. The robot receives a command to stop and immediately stops.
The reason why the contact is turned off at positions 1 and 3 is due to the reflex action of a human being when danger is present. When a person is in danger, he/she either lets go of the object or, conversely, grasps it. In other words, the safety of the operator cannot be protected unless the robot stops immediately both when the button is released (position 1) and when the button is pushed in strongly (position 3).
*Including some distributors, etc.
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