ERJ staff report (PR)
TECHNOLOGY - Stoke Mandeville, UK - Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has launched a CE certification service for robotic injection moulding machines, relieving its customers of the burden of self-certification – a time-consuming process that requires specific legal and technical knowledge.
The service is intended to enable injection moulders to achieve compliance with EU health, safety and environmental directives governing machines that have been modified to incorporate a robot and peripheral equipment.
Since 1995, injection moulding equipment manufactured outside of the EU or imported from non-EU countries has been subject to the CE marking process when put into service in the European market.
When the injection moulder incorporated a robot, it was sufficient for the robot to be accompanied by a declaration of Incorporation, as the robot was considered to be partly completed machinery. There was no requirement, by law, for the cell in its entirety to be CE marked.
With the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 and amendment in 2011, it became mandatory for the complete robotic cell to carry the CE marking. The directive also stated that whoever created the final installation – whether integrator or end-user – was responsible for obtaining this certification.
The regulation is enforced in Great Britain by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and any non-compliant installation can result in a fine of £5000 or up to two years in prison.
However, according to Nigel Flowers, managing director of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag UK, many companies are unaware that the onus for CE marking their robotic injection moulders has shifted, and may be breaching the law.
“Whilst most of the larger moulding shops are well aware of their legal responsibilities, a lot of smaller injection moulders aren’t. There are many instances of companies who have added a robot and guarding to their injection moulding machine and think that makes it perfectly safe and legal.”
Even companies who are aware of the need to obtain CE certification for installations are struggling to find someone to certify their equipment – and for a fair, not extortionate, fee, according to Flowers.
“It’s straightforward enough when buying a robot and an injection moulding machine together from the same supplier, as they will usually CE certify the cell before it leaves the factory.
Complications arise when, for example, the injection moulder and the robot are from different manufacturers, or a company is buying a robot to incorporate into an existing moulder. We’ve heard of companies being quoted £10,000 just to get one cell CE certified.”
Flowers says the issue has become more apparent as take-up of robots by the injection moulding industry has grown: “More and more injection moulders are investing in robotics, and a lot of companies run the risk of not having all their safety paperwork in place when trying not to hold up an automation project.”