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First test trials with exoskeletons started

Working in warehouse logistics is a physically demanding job. Every day, several tons of goods are moved through the goods flow process at Ludwig Meister Central Logistics. Even though the majority of the transport route takes place via conveyor lines, floor conveyors and robots, muscle power is still required at many points.

"To make this as easy as possible for the more than 40 warehouse colleagues, we are constantly reviewing measures for ergonomic work support," explains Claus Schuhbauer, occupational safety officer at Ludwig Meister. "That's why we are starting the test phase today with exoskeletons from Ottobock." 

Over the next 2 weeks, four colleagues will wear exoskeleton solutions for the back in their everyday work and gain experience. "We have decided on two different models for testing, according to the different requirements in our logistics - from rather dynamic to predominantly stationary activities," says Claus Schuhbauer. If the results are positive, more colleagues will be equipped with them.

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The first day of the test phase begins with a kick-off meeting during which Sören Wöhe, Global Ergonomic Specialist at Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons, explains the function, features and handling of the exoskeletons: "Our exoskeletons aim to offer technical solutions that enable people to perform their work in the long term while protecting their health. The two models we brought are specifically designed to provide back support for people in logistics." However, he also emphasizes that the machines are not intended to increase performance - i.e. to lift even heavier loads - but exclusively to relieve the spine and lower back when handling loads. Relief of 15 kg or 25 kg is possible for each system used. It also promotes a more ergonomic working posture. Sufficient to move from the red disc-damaging to the health-preserving range in many cases.

Then it's time to try on the exoskeletons. Sören Wöhe first demonstrates how to put them on correctly and how they can be adjusted to the individual person. The exoskeletons can be adjusted for heights from 1.60 to 1.90 meters and clothing sizes from XS to XXL. Finally, the colleagues then put on their models themselves.

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Equipped in this way, they go to the respective workplaces of their colleagues in logistics to make their first experiences with the systems. In any case, the new equipment immediately attracts the attention of the other colleagues, as the test subjects still find it all very unfamiliar. Product expert Sören Wöhe also confirms that the participants have to get used to wearing the exoskeletons at first, but he also promises, "You may not feel the positive effect on the first day or even on the second. But by the end of the work week at the latest, most people notice that the typical signs of fatigue after a strenuous week are significantly less."

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Looking at the workstations, Sören Wöhe also recognizes that attention was paid to the TOP principle in advance. Claus Schuhbauer also confirms this: "We first looked at our workstations to see what technical measures were possible to avoid strenuous movements from the outset. For example, we used lifting tables to reduce the need to bend over so often. Then, as an organizational measure, we introduced a system in which colleagues change tasks much more frequently. In this way, we avoid extremely one-sided workloads."

As a personal measure that further minimizes the remaining unavoidable workload, the exoskeletons now being tested should help. We are looking forward to the results and experience reports of our colleagues.

11/23/2022: Source First test trials with exoskeletons started - Ludwig Meister

Tom Illauer

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