Hilti and German prosthetics firm Ottobock SE are set to launch exoskeleton systems for the construction industry in autumn 2020.
The launch product, the EXO-O1, is already being used by Skanska in Sweden.
The passive exoskeleton, which does not require an energy supply, transfers the weight of the arms to the hips via the forearm supports, using mechanical cables. Independent studies and Ottobock research claim that the device can reduce peak load on the muscles and shoulders by up to 47%.
Hilti expects the device to be particularly useful for work performed above shoulder level, and overhead work, reducing fatigue and increasing productivity.
Over the longer term, the exoskeleton should help reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the shoulder area, which Hilti claims are among the most common causes of worker disability in the construction industry.
Johannes Wilfried Huber, head of Hilti’s Diamond Systems business unit, said: “Exoskeletons… provide relief for physically demanding tasks, such as those performed on construction sites every day. In Ottobock, we have the ideal partner to combine our user protection and ergonomics knowledge with 100 years of biomechanical expertise. Our technology partnership will serve as the basis for the development of additional innovative and customer-oriented systems.”
Dr. Sönke Rössing, head of Ottobock Industria, said: “We are building on our experience gained from more than 500 successful exoskeleton projects, including in the automotive industry and various trades. There is a great deal of potential for solutions that reduce the physical strain on workers in the construction industry. We want to jointly expand this pillar in the coming years.”
Hilti expects to launch the exoskeleton to selected customers in the UK in October and November, and to the rest of the industry in January 2021. Customers will be able to place orders at the time of the relevant launch dates.