Industrial exoskeletons could distrupt / revolutionize industry the way the assembly line did. Three out of five workers in construction, industry or medium to heavy physical labor have severe back problems as a result (see studies). 35 % of the complaints are attributed to the shoulder area, and 50 % are even attributed to the lower back. Back pain, shoulder complaints, neck or knee problems - musculoskeletal disorders account for almost 25 percent of all days of incapacity to work. The reason for this, particularly in retail and goods logistics, is stressful activities such as working overhead or frequently lifting and setting down heavy objects. This leads to a high probability of a herniated disc in the L5/S1 area, especially in these industries. In industry, a single worker moves the weight of a Boeing 747 per week. This leads to an average of 37 days of absence per year per employee in construction or industry. All in all, these facts cause a damage of 30 billion EUR per year in Germany alone. But not only that. Industrial exoskeletons can also be used as an employee benefit and set you apart from the market as an employer. In the following guide you will find an overview of all existing industrial exoskeletons, especially exoskeletons sorted by activities (overhead exoskeletons, shoulder exoskeletons, for lifting heavy loads, etc.) and further filtered by industries. Further down you will then find important information about different industries, about the BGB, tips for integration into the company, criticism and empirical values.
Before launch: test week & sensors for validation purposes
Before introducing exoskeletons, feel free to use existing apps from ExoIQ or German Bionic. The app from ExoIQ can be used to determine live ergonomic loads on the physique by filming a worker's load live with a cell phone camera. Furthermore one can Smart Safety Vest by German Bionic, which uses sensors and AI to collect and process this ergonomic data and make it visually visible via a dashboard. This serves as an ideal basis to measure and thus evaluate the implementation for the protection of your employees. Orthexo now also offers this service, in cooperation with WearHealth. Often the decision whether to implement exoskeletons in the company is made subjectively and emotionally, but you have to explain it rationally to your manager. So workers clearly noticed the benefit in testing, but how to mathematically recommend to the owner? In principle, we recommend two weeks of testing, which you can organize through Orthexo. During these two weeks, you test up to five exoskeletons at the same time, accompanied by us. At the beginning, two selected employees will each be fitted with three sensors (smaller than a credit card) and you will measure the load without the exoskeleton for two days. This is followed by the phase in which everyone tests and wears the exoskeletons. From our experience, it usually takes three to four days to get used to it and the benefit is at its highest, for example because your partner at home notices that you don't come home so tired anymore. However, the most important measurement data takes place in the last three days of the two test weeks. Here, the user knows the exoskeleton and its range of motion. After this test phase, Orthexo receives a test report in which the measured values with and without the exoskeleton are presented, as well as the weight moved and much more. This will then help you with your purchase decision.
For industrial exoskeletons, there are over 160 different features that can be compared. Of course, the price, the user's weight, the industry and the goals also play an important role, but peripheral factors should not be disregarded either. How noisy is an exoskeleton? Is the exoskeleton exposed to moisture in the industry? And although the exoskeleton brings enormous advantages in the trade, we also refer to the dangers (for example, can all workers provide first aid to exoskeleton users) and how to properly implement an exoskeleton in the company with all the standards and regulations. We have tested almost all the solutions ourselves, so we can give you objective recommendations. Sometimes the best exoskeletons have slight shortcomings. For example, not all back exoskeletons allow you to fill your pants pockets. So where to put your smartphone, keys, cigarettes, etc.? Therefore, we support you in making the right choice for your needs and recommend holistic solutions. For example, with the XY exoskeleton, you need a tool bag.
After hundreds of consultations with companies in logistics, crafts and manufacturing, we have found that the expectation of exoskeletons often differs from the real benefits of their introduction. Why is that? This is partially due to the media, which keeps referring to exoskeletons as a super suit. Unfortunately, there are few long-term studies for exoskeletons in which the benefits have been empirically proven over years. The technology and the degree of maturity of exoskeletons are still too new for that. In Germany, we have a different culture in companies than in China or the USA, for example. There, industrial exoskeletons are purchased and ordered to be worn. The benefits are often immediately noticeable. However, we Germans have a different mentality. Therefore, not only the purchase of the right exoskeleton is important, but also the implementation of exoskeletons in companies. Of course, it can be assumed that the musculoskeletal system of the employees is protected, the employees also notice the relief in the back and neck area when using it immediately and could theoretically work more productively. However, whether the industrial exoskeleton will be used permanently depends on the workers. Therefore, we also advise our customers regarding the implementation of industrial exoskeletons. The design plays just as important a role in whether the exoskeleton will be worn permanently as the comfort of the solution. Exoskeletons must be comfortable and you must be able to go to the bathroom with them, you must be able to do other activities with them and so on. We always recommend a test week where the workers are involved. There are multipliers and first movers in every company. These must be included in the tests and they must be involved in the decision as the voice of all employees. This is the only way to ensure that the exoskeleton will be worn in the future.
Ideally, we recommend the following process:
On our comparison platform we have listed all currently approved 51+ exoskeleton solutions for the industry, personally tested and compared them for you. We also scan all worldwide patents for you to always provide you with the best possible selection. You can compare the solutions on your own or let us do it for you by performing a pre-selection in a needs analysis and developing the individual solution tailored to your needs.
This depends on the exact use, namely how long and how often the overhead work is to be applied, respectively whether other activities are also carried out between the overhead work. Therefore, you should pay attention to how quickly the system can be activated, whether it can be worn during all activities and whether the system works with compressed air or battery, i.e. whether the external energy has to be changed between shifts. We can basically recommend the industry leader Paexo Shoulder.
Furthermore, we recommend for painters, so an exoskeleton for painters, the Ekso EVO or the ExoIQ.
Are you looking for a logistics exoskeleton? We specifically recommend exoskeleton for logistics of Htrius, from Hunic, from Ottobock or from Verve Motion.
We are happy to support you in making the right choice.
This depends on whether you are looking for a rigid exoskeleton or a textile one. We have listed both categories for you above and sorted and rated the best back exoskeletons worldwide for you.
This depends on whether you are looking for a rigid exoskeleton or a textile one. We have listed both categories for you above and sorted and rated the best back exoskeletons worldwide for you. We recommend in advance the Care Exo Lift from Hunicwhich was developed with handles especially for carrying female patients.
Yes, there is the Exoback specifically in floor work activities, for example sweeping, which is an upright forward bending application where you are guiding an object.
In industrial use, there are exoskeletons for very heavy loads. These differ from normal back systems in that they are firmly anchored to the objects, the arms are rigid or provide a support plate.
We can recommend Atlas, Muscle Upper, Auxivo Carry and Apogee.
At the moment, there are three industry leaders as sitting support options. With exoskeletons for sitting activities, the user can see and walk around with them, as well as sit stably without straining the legs. Seated exoskeletons are suitable for prolonged sedentary work activities, for example farrier, orthopedic master, in assembly and construction. Leading are Noonee and LegX.
Contact us. We will get offers for you.
Ottobock Paexo exoskeleton brands start from €500 to €4,900 per unit. The Paexo cost varies depending on the product type. If you want to buy the Paexo, contact us. We will inform you about the Paexo price independent of the manufacturer and neutral.
Yes, we offer vendor-independent webinars and training.
Feel free to contact us. We do the bureaucracy for you, support you in the selection process and get offers for you. We have the best contacts and can therefore get you the best purchasing conditions. The service is free of charge for you.
Industrial exoskeletons are much less expensive than assistive exoskeletons. The Paexo Shoulder exoskeleton from Ottobock Exoskeleton starts at 1,900 euros, the Paexo Back exoskeleton or the Apogee are available from 4,500 euros, and other exoskeletons start at 500 euros. Contact us.
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) records strong development for exoskeletons in its annual World Robotics Study.
By 2028, 300,000 systems are expected to be sold, 50 % of them in the industry. The exoskeleton Ottobock systems are leading the way here.
The use of exoskeletons offers a solution to the physical strain on people caused by lifting and carrying heavy loads or bent postures - so-called forced postures - which can lead to health complaints among employees. The use of exoskeletons provides a solution to the physical strain on people caused by lifting and carrying heavy loads or bent postures - so-called forced postures - which can lead to health complaints among employees.
Despite positive effects, the use of an exoskeleton at the production workplace should be carefully prepared and planned. It is important to plan the introduction together with the colleagues from the beginning, to test it together over a longer period of time, to involve the works council and the trade union and to allow enough time to try out different systems.
There are numerous applications and opportunities for exoskeletons, but the protective goal of reducing the physical strain on humans can in most cases already be achieved through ergonomic workplace design. It doesn't always have to be an exoskeleton as a solution; sometimes it makes more sense to further automate production, for example, or to solve the production step with a robotic arm. Sometimes a new version of the machine is a better choice, i.e. a modernization investment. Furthermore, one could use load manipulator, vacuum lifters, height adjustable workbenches or scissor lift tables. Exoskeleton workshop solutions can also look different.
Final testing required:
Robots, digitalization and automation are the three attributes of technological progress.
Employees are increasingly being equipped with new assistance system technologies known as exoskeletons. These support structures worn on the body reduce the strain on employees through electrical or mechanical support and reduce the risk of injuries caused by physical stress.
Exoskeletons have established themselves as rehabilitation aids and can facilitate physical activities in both production and logistics. Exoskeletons often make physical exertion in production and logistics easier for employees.
However, a 2018 study by the General Accident Insurance Fund (AUVA) showed that in Austria, for example, 21.4 % of all sick days are due to a musculoskeletal (MSE) disorder.
There are a number of reasons why workers in the 50-64 age group are particularly likely to experience sick leave due to MSDs. This age group is more likely to have spent many years in manual jobs that can lead to repetitive strain injuries. They may also be less physically fit than younger workers, making them more susceptible to injury. In addition, older workers are more likely to have health problems that can contribute to MSDs. For example, diabetes and arthritis may increase the likelihood that someone will develop MSDs.
Although the number of sick days taken due to MSDs is significant, it is important to remember that many people with MSDs never take sick leave. This is because they either have no symptoms or their symptoms are not severe enough to warrant time off work. Nevertheless, MSDs can have a significant impact on the lives of those affected, leading to pain, disability and a reduced quality of life.
On average, 15.8 days of sick leave are taken for every sick leave.
According to David Minzenmay, a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production and Automation Technology (IPA), sick leave due to MSDs in Germany adds up to around 125 million days per year, causing a loss in value added of around €22.7 billion.
A study by ABI Research forecasts a potential market volume for exoskeletons of USD 1.8 billion by 2025, and as much as USD 6.8 billion by 2030.
A microcensus labor force survey conducted by Statistics Austria in 2013 found that about 80 % of all workers are exposed to health risks at work (Statista Austria 2013). The findings:
Overall, 32.2 %, or 329 100 individuals, reported having work-related back problems in the year prior to the survey. Another nearly 20 % reported problems in the neck area.
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We have presented the most important parameters graphically for you. A basic distinction is made between active and passive exoskeletons. These are divided into electrical, mechanical or pneumatic. They are therefore powered by battery, compressed air, power supply or springs. It is also important which part of the body is to be protected and supported. We distinguish between arms, hands, legs, shoulders and torso area. The dead weight also plays an important role. A textile exoskeleton, for example, usually weighs less than five kilograms, while hardcover models weigh considerably more. There are also special exoskeletons for specific industries such as construction, assembly, logistics, landscaping, shipping, distribution, medicine and nursing.
The selection process to find the right exoskeleton can take a long time and become very complex. We support you in this process. Note: The graphics are subject to copyright and may only be used with source reference and linking.
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The only valid product standard that addresses the use of exoskeletons is ISO 13482:2014, which was published in 2014. This standard defines the requirements for the design and manufacture of robots intended to assist or augment humans. It applies to anthropomorphic robots that are worn by and operate in close proximity to humans.
The standard covers the design, manufacture and integration of exoskeletons intended to assist or augment humans. It applies to anthropomorphic robots that are worn by humans and operate in close proximity to humans.
The standard does not apply to devices that are surgically implanted in the human body, nor to devices that serve only cosmetic purposes.
The standard is based on the assumption that the user of an exoskeleton is a healthy adult human being. It does not address the design of exoskeletons for use by children or persons with physical impairments.
In principle, a distinction is made when considering whether one is a manufacturer or operator and whether the exoskeleton is active or passive.
Currently, there is no valid product standard that deals exclusively or specifically with the use of exoskeletons, but only standards that partially include them.
Active exoskeletons are briefly mentioned in EN ISO 13482 "Robots and robotic devices - Safety requirements for personal assistive robots". Content: It is assumed that the design is inherently safe or is designed to be so safe by means of technical protective measures that the resulting residual risks can be accepted without further ado.
Requirements for the development of exoskeletons, i.e. manufacturers of machines in industrial environments, which also include active exoskeletons, must comply with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. Only then may the exoskeleton be marketed in Europe.
In addition, the EMC Directive 2014/30/EU and, in the case of a built-in radio module such as WLAN, the RED Directive 2014/53/EU place requirements on the exoskeleton and its use.
Depending on the operating voltage, the Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU may also apply.
Lastly, the provider of active exoskeletons must have their CE conformity investigated and certified by a declaration of conformity.
It is important to note that the requirements differ between active and passive exoskeletons. Passive exoskeletons are not covered by the EU Product Directive and therefore do not have to be developed in an essentially CE-compliant manner.
Since an exoskeleton is worn on the body like a robot suit, ergonomic adaptability to the respective body size of the employees is essential. The passive exoskeletons, which already tend to be lightweight, must be designed in accordance with EN ISO 13482 in such a way that, for example, no bruising, cuts or abrasions are caused by straps or other components.
It is also important that no uncontrolled movements occur, for example due to springs or stored energy.
For the heavier active exoskeletons, the additional load acting on the user must also be taken into account.
In order to be able to use the industrial exoskeleton, the Employee Protection Act (ASchG) with § 33 and § 35 and, as a result, the associated ordinances, such as the Work Equipment Ordinance (AM-VO), must be taken into account in order to reduce or better prevent hazards for employees through the use of exoskeletons.
It states that only safe products (CE marking) may be used and that the work must be designed safely by the employer and, according to ASchG § 4, a workplace evaluation must be carried out.
Compliance with the regulations requires the operator of work equipment to conduct an appropriate safety-related workplace evaluation.
EN ISO 12100, which is also provided for machine design, is suitable here. In addition, one should deal with the EMF regulation (EMF: electromagnetic fields).
Regardless of the standards and regulations, a workplace evaluation is required to consider all operations that may also occur during the time of use.
This starts with precautions during donning as well as doffing and precautions against falls.
Furthermore, the PPE Ordinance (PSAV) must be observed internally.
Active exoskeletons integrated into the corporate network must be securely developed and implemented using IEC 62443 "Industrial communication networks - IT security for networks and systems". This is to prevent hacking.
Exoskeletons provide greater employee well-being in hospitals and nursing. The use of exoskeletons in nursing and hospital settings can help improve employee well-being.
Surgical procedures are very strenuous - standing for long periods and high precision lead to fatigue. Exoskeletons can ensure that the body is relieved. Exoskeletons for cardiologists are very popular. Studies show that surgeons are at increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). A study in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics found that 90 % of surgeons suffer MSDs, primarily in the back and neck.
When you visit a dentist, precision is required. Longer procedures can therefore be performed with weight support for the arms to maintain the necessary precision. Dentists have to be precise. Therefore, it is helpful to use a weight support for the arms during longer procedures.
The use of exoskeletons in hospitals and nursing can facilitate lifting activities and reduce workload. Exoskeletons can be used in hospitals and nursing to improve the well-being of employees. One exoskeleton that meets the requirements is the Care Exo.
Demographic change is ensuring that nursing care is becoming an increasingly important area of healthcare. Exoskeletons can make an important contribution to keeping the backs of nursing staff healthy.
The power suit continues to gain acceptance in construction. Special heavy load carrying, lifting and transporting loads over longer distances are perfect for exoskeletons. Overhead work is also extremely strenuous; painters, for example, can benefit from overhead exoskeletons.
Often, the overhead work here is also extremely strenuous.
Due to the large glass fronts and triple glazing, windows are very difficult to transport. However, with the right solutions you can do this easily and without problems over long distances. Windows are always harder to get to where you want them, but with the right solutions, you can do this easily over long distances. You should also pay attention to exoskeletons where the load can be connected directly to the exoskeleton. We will be happy to advise you.
Robotic suits, they are also called exoskeletons, are very common here, especially the overhead exoskeletons and the ground work exoskeletons.
Farriers are often and exoskeletons for sitting such as the Noonee, the LegX or the Lex Chair are especially suitable for this.
Cleaning work can cause problems with the shoulder - therefore we recommend overhead exoskeletons.
In horticulture, there are many very differently positioned loads that are best solved with textile exoskeletons. These are not that expensive and are extremely easily adaptable. Only when it comes to heavy lifting would we advise against them.
Exoskeleton in logistics: it must be carried heavy and often. Here we recommend hardcover models, because often one employee carries a whole plane in sum of a whole week.
Due to the many lifting operations in order picking, an exoskeleton is the perfect companion for employees. The work in order picking is strenuous and characterized by many different lifting processes. An exoskeleton is the perfect companion here to prevent back pain.
Wholesalers have to adapt very flexibly to the needs of their customers - this also means that employees in logistics have to work faster. This can lead to overloads, but exoskeletons for the back can work wonders here! Wholesale flexibility responds to the needs of its customers - which in turn can lead to employee overload. This is where exoskeletons for the back can work wonders!
Especially in warehouse logistics, time is money and employees are hard to come by. Modern logistics companies have to withstand very diverse requirements.
The logistics industry is a mainstay of the national economy in Germany and is becoming increasingly important due to the rapidly growing volume of Internet trade and, most recently, Covid-19. The logistics industry is a key factor in the value chain of companies and, with more than 3 million employees and around 279 billion euros in sales in 2019, is highly significant in the German economy.
Across Europe, according to Industry association BLV to over 1,120 billion euros estimated and the worldwide handling volume is also increasing due to globalization.
The number of lost work days in the industry, according to BKK 2020 Report with 25.7 days extremely high.
Employees in the food industry often have to stand for long periods of time and perform physically demanding tasks, such as lifting heavy objects. In some companies, exoskeletons have already proven useful in alleviating these stresses. Ottobock's Paexo brand leads the way in this regard. Paexo Ottobock is the industry brand for exoskeletons.
Metalworking companies rely on exoskeletons to keep workers healthy due to the shortage of skilled workers. Exoskeletons are a good measure in many metalworking companies to improve the health of workers.
Mechanical engineering is in a constant state of flux and it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain good employees. Due to the high load i The increasing load in the area of manufacturing and logistics makes it more and more difficult for companies to retain good employees. Exoskeletons offer numerous application possibilities here. In the area of manufacturing and logistics, there are also many possible applications for exoskeletons here.
The automotive industry is in a constant state of flux, with new challenges arising all the time, and not just as a result of the mobility revolution. Many manufacturers are already using exoskeletons in assembly, especially overhead exoskeletons. Example: Audi.
Employees in the electrical industry and in the electrical trade are confronted with very different stresses. Especially in assembly, exoskeletons can prevent many health problems. The electrical industry and the electrical trade are confronted with very different stresses. Especially in assembly, many health problems can be prevented by exoskeletons.
Wood is a natural raw material that has increasingly come into focus both in the climate debate and in the wood industry. The different fields of application for exoskeletons in the wood industry are an important topic.
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All advantages at a glance: