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Warehouse: Dachser recruits exoskeletons as support staff

Dachser has tested active exoskeletons from German Bionic in the daily work routine of a warehouse. Now the use at further locations is planned.

Manual labor is still a must in the warehouse. Physical activities, such as unloading goods or picking, are part of everyday life. For some time now, Dachser has therefore been looking into how employees can be supported in their physical work with technical aids. The transport and logistics provider says that exoskeletons are particularly promising. In the field of medicine, there have already been applications for these external support structures for some time. There are also more and more market-ready devices for industry.

Dachser started the first tests in 2019, at that time primarily with passive exoskeletons with mechanical spring systems, rails or weights that assist in lifting loads. However, active exoskeletons have since reached a level of maturity that could improve warehouse processes, the company recently said. Active exoskeletons would facilitate lifting activities through battery-powered robotic motors. This reduces the strain on the lower back when lifting heavy loads, and the wearer tires less, which counteracts poor posture.

Active exoskeletons in Magdeburg

In the spring, the transport and logistics group tested such active exoskeletons from the German manufacturer German Bionic in the warehouse of its Magdeburg logistics center. The aim was to gather empirical values under real conditions and to obtain feedback from employees. Cray X devices were used to support various processes in incoming goods, order picking and at the packing table. The exoskeleton can reportedly provide 30 kilograms of relief per lifting operation. It can also provide support during carrying.

Stephan Heinemann, Contract Logistics Manager at Dachser's Magdeburg logistics center, reports on the "positive effects of the exoskeletons" that quickly became apparent.

"They relieve our employees very directly when handling heavier loads and provide ergonomic stabilization of the body. This also has long-term benefits, because the exoskeletons prevent harmful overloads and accidents at work."

According to Heinemann, the simple handling of the devices was also convincing and ensured rapid acceptance by the test subjects.

Technology with a future

The logistics company from the Allgäu region now wants to make use of the positive experience.

"During the test, everyone perceived the hoped-for relief of the lower back by the exoskeleton and rated it as positive," Heinemann confirms.

For this reason, three active exoskeletons are to be used regularly in Magdeburg in the future. Other locations in the Dachser network are also to benefit from the new technology in the warehouse, including the Ulm logistics center starting in the fall.

The new technologies and innovations are intended to help make the processes in the warehouse, too, continuously more efficient and more powerful, adds Thomas Klare, Head of Corporate Contract Logistics at Dachser. In particular, people are to be supported at all levels of their activities in the warehouse.

"The use of active exoskeletons impressively demonstrates how modern technology not only makes work easier immediately, but can also have a positive effect on the long-term health of our Logistics Operatives," concludes Klare.

Source: Warehouse: Dachser recruits exoskeletons as assistants - Cargo handling, occupational safety & health | News | TRANSPORT - die Zeitung für den Güterverkehr (Trucks, Freight forwarders, Fleet, Commercial vehicles, Transport policy, Economics) ( (17.10.2022)

Tom Illauer

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