Exoskeletons support logistics workers of the future
Exoskeletons are gaining increased attention from researchers and companies, and practical deployment is edging ever nearer. At the European Robotics Forum, the Fraunhofer IAO recently presented the Robo-Mate exoskeleton. The upper body and leg modules strengthen a user’s lifting and carrying abilities. Even MIT has joined the ranks of the exoskeleton developers. Esko Bionics is also looking to launch the first fully-functional exoskeleton to support heavy-lifting later this year. Back in 2014, the Korean industrial giant Daewoo had already begun trialling exoskeletons for its wharf operations.
Augmented reality is also nearing the deployment phase. Deutsche Post DHL ran a pilot project known as ‘Vision Picking’ in 2015. This enabled warehouse workers to pick orders more efficiently and comfortably with the help of AR glasses and contextual instructions.
A logistics worker with an exoskeleton and augmented reality device: What does an ‘augmented’ workforce mean in this context for the logistics sector? Logistics providers will be able to increase efficiency across their entire value-creation chain through the use of such technologies, helping to reduce the frequency of mistakes. At the same time, staff will find the work more comfortable and less physically demanding. In view of the fact that the average age of many workforces is rising, this will help avoid joint damage and muscular deterioration, meaning people can continue to work as they get older – a win–win situation for the employee and employer alike in the logistics sector.
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