Increase safety for tablet operated equipment


IDEC has released a series of Safety Commander products that can be attached to commercially available tablets to enhance safety, robustness, and reliability by adding mechanical switches such as emergency stop switches and 3-position enabling (3PE) switches, as well as wired LAN communication (HT4P version).

In recent years, the introduction of commercially available tablet devices into various machines and equipment has been promoted at manufacturing sites due to their easy-to-understand screen displays and touch panels for ease of operation.

On the other hand, as collaborative robots and AGV/AMRs (automated guided vehicles/autonomous mobile robots) become popular, general-purpose tablets with high expressive power, excellent operability, and relatively low cost are increasingly being used in place of conventional teaching pendants. The challenge, then, is the safety of tablet operation. Even with such tablets that excel in expressiveness and operability, risk reduction in the field is essential, and there is a growing demand for safety devices such as emergency stop switches and three-position enabling switches.

The ISO 10218 series of international standards for industrial robots and robot systems, which are scheduled for revision, will incorporate the contents of ISO/TS 15066, the technical specification for collaborative robots, and will require the use of new safety functions and safety devices for many industrial robots, including collaborative robots. These new safety requirements and control functions can be solved by adopting the Safety Commander, and it is rapidly gaining attention in the industry not only for its ease of use at the manufacturing site but also for its effectiveness in ensuring safety and improving worker wellbeing.

IDEC’s Safety Commander adds safety features to tablets on the production floor. Two models are in the lineup, the HT3P type for tablets with 8 to 11″ screens launched in 2021, incorporating the required E-Stop and 3-position enabling switch all mounted ergonomically. And now the latest model, the HT4P type (for 10 to 13″ tablets) has added features too. The HT4P type, in its basic format, includes the emergency stop switch and a 3-position enabling switch; however, other buttons and joysticks can be equipped as options providing more control features to the user and their application.

The applications for the Safety Commander include teaching industrial robots, operation control of large equipment and machinery, control of automobile production lines and conveyor lines, control of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, chip mounters, food machinery, packaging machinery, and other equipment, and manual control of AGV/AMRs, etc. The number of companies that have already introduced the system and the number of cases where the system is being introduced on a test basis increases on a weekly basis.

The traditional teaching pendants, which are dedicated devices from various companies, have been widely used for teaching industrial robots for decades. The teaching pendant must be equipped with an emergency stop switch and a three-position enabling switch in accordance with ISO 10218, an international standard that specifies the safety of industrial robots and their systems, to reduce risks when a human and a robot work in close proximity.

Therefore, IDEC has introduced the Safety Commander to provide a cost-effective alternative to these dedicated teaching pendants. The latest version, the HT4P, answers the requests from users with the need to install emergency stop switches, 3-position enabling switches, and, most importantly, add other mechanical switches depending on the application, such as mechanical pushbuttons, key selector switches or even a joystick. The users add their tablet, and their solution is safe and provides good operability and high cost performance.

Many end users who use robots and AGVs at factory automation sites consider that tablets must also have safety functions and set internal regulations. This trend is reflected in global safety standards, and the HT4P was newly developed as a product that can easily add an emergency stop switch and a 3-position enabling switch to tablets on the market and can be used with a hand strap or shoulder strap for stable operation and a wired LAN communication system that can be used safely even in environments where Wi-Fi is not available.

Easily to attach and detach 

The HT4P is equipped with a slide mechanism and is designed to be easily attached to 10 to 13″ tablets. Once installed, the tablet can be secured with a lock that prevents accidental removal.

Right- or left-handed

The ergonomic grip structure of the Safety Commander and the placement of the enabling switches make it easy to hold and operate the tablet regardless of the user’s dominant hand.

Portrait or landscape 

The rotating grip allows the tablet to be set and operated in portrait or landscape or in the direction desired for operation. Vertical and horizontal rotation can be changed only when the rotate button is pressed. This also prevents unintentional rotation due to the tablet’s own weight.

Mechanical switches 

The HT4P model is equipped with the safety-compliant emergency stop switch and a 3-position enabling switch as standard, allowing the robot or equipment to be stopped at any time. In addition, illuminated pushbutton switches, key selector switches, and joysticks can be installed in a customised manner as options.

Wired LAN compatible

Wi-Fi communication is the mainstream for tablets, but concerns remain about the reliability of wireless communication. The HT4P type is equipped with a USB/LAN converter so that tablet operations can be exchanged over a more reliable wired LAN. In addition, with built-in USB Power available, the tablet is always ready to be powered, so there is no need to worry about running out of battery power.

Other features include a robustness rating of 1.2m drop resistance and an IP54 protection structure for water splash, dust, and dusty environments.


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