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"Exoskeletons are a worthwhile investment for craftsmen"

Hunic's exoskeletons are designed to make it easier to work with heavy loads, but also to guide their wearers to a back-friendly posture. The manufacturer advertises a relief of the musculature by up to 25 percent.

The Work at Craft is sometimes a real Bone job. On the construction site and in the workshops, employees move heavy and unwieldy loads. Many bricklayers, scaffolders, metal workers, masons, tilers, SHK installers or mechanics for tire and vulcanization technology are likely to feel their backs or knees after a hard day.

This is also reflected in the Sick leave noticeable. According to the "Sector Report Crafts 2022" of the Institute for Workplace Health Promotion were by far the Most days absent from Back pain caused. In the analysis of incapacity to work data for employees insured with the AOK, four other musculoskeletal disorders are in the top ten days lost.

Users and tasks

Companies from the Industry and Logistics are already addressing the problem. At the PickingRepackaging or Palletizing exoskeletons are used. "Our company founder Jonas Mast has further improved the lifting and carrying aids developed in a research project together with well-known retail chains and shipping service providers. The systems from Hunic facilitate not the Work with heavy loads, but they direct the carriers also to a back-friendly posture at", explains Thorsten Sonneborn, key account manager at the exoskeleton manufacturer founded in 2017. Hunic

Relief of the musculature

With the SoftExo products from Hunic it concerns passive exoskeletons. "Instead of a motor, we use Elastomerswhich tense and relax to cushion the weight during lifting or carrying," says Thorsten Sonneborn, explaining the difference between these and active systems. Depending on the degree of adjustment, the Muscles with it relieved by up to 25 percent.

"25 percent sounds little," Thorsten Sonneborn objects, "but in an eight-hour workday, wearing an exoskeleton allows cushion large load peaks.“

This assessment is in line with the Employee observations from industry and logistics. "From talking to them, we've learned that lifting and carrying heavy loads is much easier for them, that they feel more focused and therefore less prone to accidents at work."

Structure and material

The Hunic exoskeletons consist of different modules, the Connected with push-fit fasteners Are. "You can use the systems Disassemble without problems and the fabric elements at 30°C in the washing machine clean.“

Each module is at any time reorderable. This also applies to the primary wearing part - the Elastomers. Thorsten Sonneborn attests to the Rubber bands however a High robustness. "They can withstand one million to one and a half million elongation phases. If the exoskeleton is stressed for eight hours every day, the elastomers would not need to be replaced for at least three years."

Three models for the craft

The Hunic product range includes Four models. For the work in the Craft come the SoftExo LiftSoftExo Hold and SoftExo Carry in question. As Material mainly soft, air-permeable textile fabric made of synthetic fiber (mesh) is used. "Sensitive surfaces such as car bodies or varnished wood are destroyed on contact with the exoskeleton. not scratched", assures Thorsten Sonneborn. Since no linkages or motors are installed that protrude from the body and that can Freedom of movement could restrict, it would be possible to "work wonderfully" even in narrow aisles.

Body weight and abdominal girth

The predominant use of the mesh material affects the Weight of the exoskeletons from Hunic. "At 1.4 kilograms, the SoftExo Lift is one of the lightest systems on the market," Thorsten Sonneborn cites as an example.

All models are available in Two sizes offered. The decisive factors are the Body weight and the Abdominal girth of the carrier. Size 1 can up to 85 kilogram be worn, Size 2 from 85 kilogram. The limit at the Abdominal girth lies with maximum 130 centimeters. "If both designs do not fit, also Special designs possible."

Fitting and donning the exoskeleton 

The first adjustment of the exoskeletons, according to Thorsten Sonneborn, takes around three to four minutes. Instructions for donning and washing are printed on the systems as a QR code for additional support. Depending on the activity, the SoftExos can be worn all day. Only for driving the models Lift and Hold are not suitable because of the stable back rail. "However, all systems can be within 30 to 40 seconds from- and again tighten.“

Get to know Hunic

Hunic places its exoskeletons on various Events in front of. On the one hand, the manufacturer from Baiersbronn specializes in Trade fairs like the "Rehacare" in Düsseldorf or the "LogiMAT" in Stuttgart.

On the other hand, one organizes own "Demodays" in cities like Leipzig or cooperates with partners like the Medium-Sized Digital Center of the Koblenz Chamber of Skilled Crafts. Participation in the latter two events is free of charge.

"Exoskeletons are a product that requires explanation. In order to be able to speak as directly as possible with potential users, we want to be even more present on site in the coming year," says Thorsten Sonneborn with a view to the plans for 2023.

Test SoftExo models from Hunic

Craftsmen can also use the exoskeletons from Hunic try out in their company. "First, we clarify in a Videocall or a Conversation on site However, it depends on which workplaces there are and whether the use of our systems really offers added value," explains Thorsten Sonneborn.

The 14 days trial period begins with a Training day. It includes a detailed analysis of the workstations from an ergonomic point of view, individual adaptation of the systems to the testers' bodies, instructions on how to work with the exoskeleton, and training for a contact person at the company.

Hunic employee accompanied the Test phase. During this time the Tester also asked to give their Feedback to hand in. "After the two weeks, we sit down with the company and evaluate the results."

Costs of the accompanied test phase

The accompanied 14-day test of the exoskeletons is associated with costs. The Price depends on the Effort and from the Number of exoskeletons rented from. "Per system we put 850 Euro into account." In addition to the rental of the ergonomic lifting and carrying aids, the Training day honored. For the duration of the 14-day test phase, the following fees apply per awarded System 850 Euro an.

More about "Exoskeletons "In the Online article "Exoskeletons protect the wearer from peak loads" on we introduce the scientist and founder of exoIQ, Professor Dr.-Ing. Robert Weidner, who developed the S700 shoulder exoskeleton together with his colleague Bernward Otten. At Online article "SHK trade company lets its employees test four exoskeletons". we report on the experiences of a SHK company from Mönchengladbach during a three-week deployment of exoskeletons.

Promotion of exoskeletons

So far, neither the Health insurance companies nor the Professional associations with a Grant on the purchase of an exoskeleton. "This would be desirable, of course, but the insurance companies need more studies for this," the Hunic employee suspects. There is an exception for severely disabled employees. According to the Landschaftsverband Rheinland, they can be given a Exoskeleton as technical aid be completely financed within the framework of the accompanying assistance. Otherwise, Thorsten Sonneborn falls to the promotion for the purchase of exoskeletons only the Tax office ON. "You can see our Systems also lease. This allows a Immediate write-off take place."

Protect professionals from diseases

In many professions in the skilled trades, there are no or only a few skilled workers left. This makes it all the more important to existing staff at hold and from diseases at protect. „Exoskeletons are a worthwhile investment"Thorsten Sonneborn is convinced. If this could reduce back, muscular or skeletal disorders, both sides would benefit. "The companies are left with saves costly days of absence and the Employees feel their Employer more connected, because he is interested in their health and they can work longer in their learned profession."

Source: "Exoskeletons are a worthwhile investment for craftsmen" ( (17.10.2022)

Tom Illauer

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