Background knowledge on human-robot collaboration (HRC)

The mega trend in detail

From robots that replace workers to robots that serve as helpful colleagues, the field of robotic automation is experiencing a new trend that represents a huge challenge for all components. SCHUNK, as the competence leader for clamping technology and gripping systems, is intensely dealing with this new challenge.

Teamwork in production automation Standards for safety.


The more closely humans and robots work together, the more technologies and components are required to meet higher safety requirements. The various forms of interaction between humans and robots are regulated by the relevant standards and guidelines. Differentiations are made between safe hold, hand guiding, speed and separation monitoring, and power and force limiting.

Normative subdivision in accordance with ISO/TS 15066

Method 1 – Safe hold


The robot system operates at normal speed provided that there is free access in the machining area. When a human enters the machining area this is monitored i. e. by a laser scanner. The robot system then enters into a safety-monitored stop.

Method 2 – Hand guiding


The robot system is guided by a human. In order to do so, the system must be able to detect the force of the human e. g. using a force/torque sensor. The robot system only moves when this movement is enabled by the human using a safety switch. Otherwise the robot system is in a safety-monitored stop.

Method 3 – Speed and separation monitoring


The machining area of the robot system is divided up into successive zones. If the entry of a human into one of the first zones is detected for instance by a laser scanner, the robot system goes into a lower speed. When the zone directly next to the robot is entered, the robot system goes into a safety-monitored stop.

Method 4 – Power and force limiting


The robot system works with limited force and power when collaborating directly with humans. The maximum forces and pressures applied to humans may not exceed the values specified in the technical specifications. This is ensured by an inherently safe design or by safety functions.

SCHUNK is defining human-robot collaboration with a focus on grippers

With the Co-act JL1 gripper, SCHUNK is capturing a trend and focusing on cutting-edge technology in the development of actuators for collaborative operations. The aim is for SCHUNK Co-act grippers to interact and communicate directly with humans in

accordance with normative directives. The SCHUNK Co-act JL1 gripper is based is based on three principles derived from the HRC standards on human-robot collaboration. A gripper for collaborative operations does not have to comply with all principles here.

Three principles of human-robot collaboration

Grippers never cause injuries when gripping

Grippers always detect human contact

Grippers never lose a workpiece

  • Force limitation
    A gripping force limitation which is activated in a hazardous situation. Otherwise, the gripper can be operated with any force.
  • Collision protection
    All risks of injury due to contact are eliminated by the HRC-compatible design.

  • Secure drive
    The gripper must be able to prevent humans from being injured even at high gripping forces. Gripped parts are held reliably if a process is interrupted.

  • Environmental sensor systems
    The use of different sensor systems for detecting humans and the environment while simultaneously sensing the workpiece and differentiating it from human hands.

  • Software
    A gripper software that evaluates and processes the signals of the environmental sensor system. This intelligent software empowers the gripper with artificial intelligence.

SCHUNK gripping competence for HRC applications


In the framework of its cutting-edge technology, SCHUNK is oriented toward real-world applications within various industries with its gripper concepts for HRC applications. The resulting experiences will be continuously incorporated into the further development of the SCHUNK Co-act grippers.

Are you facing a specific HRC challenge and do you want to learn more about the SCHUNK HRC grippers?

Please contact us with your individual requirements.

You can reach the SCHUNK Co-act team by:

Tel.: +49-7133-103-3444E-mail:

We look forward to hearing from you!