Hilti has teamed up with German prosthetics firm Ottobock SE to develop new exoskeleton systems for the construction industry.
Hilti will launch the first joint product, the EXO-O1, in autumn 2020. The exoskeleton 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 said it expected the device to be particularly useful when it comes to 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 said were 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 are an important trend having great relevance for us. They 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 Industrial added: “We are delighted to be opening up a new area of application together with Hilti. 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.”