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Project name:

Exoskeletons in manufacturing

Status: In Preparation
Creation date: 28-07-2020

Project objectives:

Exoskeletons are intuitive and flexible wearable devices that relieves the strain and improve ergonomics of manual tasks. In addition to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), exoskeletons can also contribute in assisting an increasing aging workforce in manufacturing industries.

To prove the benefits of exoskeletons in manufacturing, this project aims to develop a method, agnostic of exoskeleton type, to evaluate their biomechanics effects on aging operators. In a long term, this will allow HSSMI to provide their customer with a new service for exoskeleton evaluation.

This will be achieved by:

  • Investigating the need in manufacturing
  • Benchmarking existing industrial exoskeletons
  • Establishing the key human factors, health & safety and ergonomic criteria to assess human-exoskeleton interaction, considering the age of the targeted workforce
  • Defining how to measure these criteria
  • Running trials to test and validate the relevancy of the proposed method

Exoskeletons have been proven to be efficient in the healthcare for rehabilitation and in the military to enhance strength and endurance, and some of them have been in used for many years.

In manufacturing, their high potential on reducing strain of operators and prevent risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) is leading to an upcoming widespread implementation. For industrial applications, exoskeletons must fulfil high demands on functionality, safety, comfort, and user acceptance in daily work. Additionally, there is a need of guidance on how to prove that this type of assistance will benefit operators, particularly the older ones.

Most studies to date have involved only small numbers of participants in laboratory settings, which makes it more difficult to draw firm conclusions about the benefits of industrial exoskeletons despite the expectations about their role in injury prevention.

 

By developing a generic method that allows any exoskeleton to be assessed for any industrial application, with relevant criteria and accurate data, the outcomes of this project will contribute to and facilitate the performance of the most physical tasks by improving ergonomics and to accommodate an ageing workforce.

 Total project size will be approximately £200 000, last 12 months and involve 4 UK partners.

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