Exoskeletons can make a significant contribution to workplace health and safety, especially in places where work is done overhead or above the shoulders. Workers fatigue less quickly and can do their work over a longer period of time, making them significantly more productive. Over the long term, this preventative support can also contribute to reducing work-related muscle and bone injuries in the shoulder area, which are a frequent cause of disability in the construction industry and a cost factor for businesses and healthcare systems. The Hilti Group and Ottobock SE & Co. KGaA have now agreed to enter a technology partnership to develop exoskeletons. Johannes Wilfried Huber, head of the diamond technology division at Hilti, believes that exoskeletons could be an ultra-relevant trend for Hilti. He says, “They provide relief for physically strenuous work, like the type that is carried out on construction sites every day. With Ottobock, we have the ideal partner to combine our knowledge in user safety and ergonomics with 100 years of biomechanical expertise.” Hilti’s partner, the Ottobock Industrials division, has been developing industrial exoskeletons for its Paexo product range since 2012. Dr Sönke Rössing, head of Ottobock Industrials, is happy to tap into a new field of application together with Hilti. He says, “We are building on our experience from over 500 successful exoskeleton projects, including in the automotive industry and manual trades. There is still much potential in the construction industry for solutions that reduce the physical burden on workers. We want to expand this key plank together over the coming years.” Hilti is seeking to put the EXO-O1, their first joint product, on the market in autumn 2020. It will be a passive model not requiring any energy supply, with the weight of the arms being diverted through the arm shells to the hips using mechanical cable technology, reducing the peak load on the muscles and relieving the burden on the shoulders by up to 47%.
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