DB Schenker tests 'exoskeletons' to help workers lifting
GERMAN logistics giant DB Schenker has is preparing to introduce 'exoskeletons' at its warehouses to relieve staff of physically-demanding tasks
14 August 2019 - 19:00
Exoskeletons, also known as outer skeletons or support robots, are electro-mechanical support structures carried on the body. In addition to ergonomically-designed workstations, they are designed to support the workers during lifting and rotating movements of the body.
Exoskeletons protect the lumbar vertebrae and the back muscles. The strain on these parts of the body is often the cause of illness and inability to work.
'This brings us closer to our strategic target of being the employer of choice as an innovative and leading logistics service provider,' said chief human resources officer Thomas Schulz.
The focus of the pilot project was the order picking and sequencing of packages weighing up to 15 kilogrammes. Employees equipped with an exoskeleton removed the packages from storage racks and then placed them on pallets.
The exoskeleton supported the movement sequences. As part of the Graduate Summer School at the University of Dortmund, DB Schenker invited around 20 doctoral students from various faculties to Cologne.
Said process efficiency manager Gerald Mueller: 'We will now be analysing the results in detail and checking whether the exoskeletons will then be included in the area of process optimisation at DB Schenker.'
Even in highly-automated warehouses, employees are still indispensable for many activities, such as lifting loads from their packaging. While general lifting operations are performed by machines such as forklifts or robots, lifting out is still too complex for the control technology of the machines.
Here, an exoskeleton combines the power of the machine with the human motor competence, providing the perfect solution.
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