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Exoskeletons shape the future of industrial and logistics professions

Ottobock presents innovations for ergonomic workstations at the ProMat trade fair in Chicago

Making workplaces healthier, safer, more productive and more attractive - that's how Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons are shaping the future of work. The company, a leading manufacturer of exoskeletons, will showcase its product portfolio at the ProMat 2023 trade show in Chicago, March 20-23, at booth N6354. Exoskeletons complement the human body and reduce strain during manual load handling tasks, reducing work-related injuries while increasing well-being and productivity.

Today, labor shortages are an unprecedented challenge for many industries in the U.S., such as logistics, retail, automotive, rail and aviation - and the pressure is compounded by ongoing demographic changes and increasing sick leave. Ottobock exoskeletons offer an innovative approach to reducing work-related injuries, particularly in the logistics industry, where employees miss an average of up to 32 workdays per year due to back pain and other workplace injuries.

Samuel Reimer, Vice President Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons North America, says, "There are 14 million manufacturing and logistics workers in the US alone. The average employee lifts and moves more than 100 tons of material every week. That's equivalent to the weight." of a Boeing 747 - putting extreme stress on the human body. Our exoskeletons significantly reduce this risk by making employees healthier and more productive. This is how we are shaping the future of work and contributing to healthier and more sustainable workplaces in the USA "

Biomechanics: the key to lightweight, flexible systems

At this year's ProMat, Ottobock will showcase its growing range of exoskeleton products, including:
The BackX model is aimed specifically at logistics workers who need to move loads manually without losing their speed and flexibility. The exoskeleton reduces the load on the lower back during lifting tasks by an average of 60 percent. However, it also allows a high degree of freedom of movement, enabling employees to perform activities such as operating forklifts and climbing stairs. The BackX model is used in several logistics centers of DB Schenker, a leading global logistics provider. 

Ottobock's shoulder model supports employees during strenuous activities at or above shoulder level and is used in automotive, train maintenance and aircraft manufacturing, among others. This model is used by numerous large companies, including Boeing, Mazda and Toyota North America. SNCF, the French national railroad, has also introduced the exoskeleton to increase efficiency in the maintenance of its TGV trains. 

Sensor-based bionic analytics prove effectiveness

More than 200 studies prove the positive effect of exoskeletons. To enable companies to objectively replicate these findings in their environment, Ottobock has developed a "Bionic Analytics" offering. It combines sensors that precisely analyze employee work processes before and after exoskeleton use with AI-driven algorithms to provide clear data points on improved ergonomics and productivity.

DB Schenker, a leading global contract logistics company, is one of the first to use this technology for unloading containers and palletizing. The overall load on employees during manual load handling has been significantly reduced, and working hours have been increased by around 20 percent - in other words, productivity has increased. The survey results also showed that participants noticed a significant improvement in their work situation.

Exploring the future of work

Bionic Exoskeletons has been a business unit of the global German health tech company Ottobock since 2018. In late 2021, the business unit was expanded through the acquisition of California-based tech company SuitX. Now, the Emeryville hub has become a research hub where the company is continuously developing products that will shape the future of work.

Original source: Exoskeletons shape the future of industrial and logistic jobs (

Tom Illauer

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