Brick manufacturer trials exoskeletons

Workers at sustainable brick manufacturer Kenoteq will trial the exoskeletons
Workers at sustainable brick manufacturer Kenoteq will trial the exoskeletons

Brick manufacturer Kenoteq, which produces bricks made from recycled construction waste, is to trial exoskeleton suits in its factory.

The company, a spin-out from Heriot-Watt University is trialling two different types of exoskeleton suits. The suits come from the Exskallerate programme, which is co-funded by Interreg North Sea Region and Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST). The project has support from the University of Strathclyde and National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS).

The Kenoteq test team are using the Herowear Apex and Auxivo Liftsuit to support general manufacturing and loading activities.

Reduced strain

Kenoteq makes its bricks from 90% construction waste materials, using one tenth of the emissions of traditional clay-fired bricks. Next year, it will open a new factory at a waste recycling facility in East Lothian, processing around 20t of commercial waste daily to turn into new bricks.

Both suits are designed to protect the upper body and back from the strain associated with manual labour.

Recent statistics from the UK Health and Safety Executive showed there were 470,000 workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2020/21, with the figures for the construction sector much higher than any other industry at 1,830 cases per 100,000 workers.

Shifting attitudes to wellbeing

Paul Grant, site technician at Kenoteq has been using the passive exoskeleton suit for the last fortnight. He said: “The use of the suit has helped me to focus on my job while not worrying about undue strain or risks to my body. It has also made me think carefully about health and safety practice such as safe lifting and carrying heavy objects.”

Workers lift bricks using the exoskeletons – Kenoteq is trialling two different models.

Dr Sam Chapman, managing director, Kenoteq, said: “We’re proud to be among the first to trial the new exoskeletons. The wellbeing of our staff is central to both our company values and production approach.”

A free-to-access online hub will make detailed information and guidance, including results of the trials, available to any SMEs considering investment in exoskeletons after the trial.

Alan Johnston, impact manager at BE-ST, said: “We have seen big changes in attitudes to health and safety over the last couple of decades. The widespread use of exoskeletons could be transformational for employee wellbeing and injury and pain prevention.”

The post Brick manufacturer trials exoskeletons appeared first on Construction Management.
Story for BIM+? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News