Ottobock Industrials presents new ideas with first Exo Day 2020
Over 900 participants attended the online conference on industrial exoskeletons
How can exoskeletons be used effectively in the logistics sector? What criteria determine whether exoskeletons are successful in practice? What are the differences between passive and active exoskeletons? What norms and standards are needed to move the exoskeleton segment forwards?
International experts came together to discuss these questions and more on 14 May at the Exo Day online conference initiated by Ottobock. Overs 900 participants followed the panel discussions, introductory talks and product presentations and learned about the latest technology and scientific findings in the field of industrial exoskeletons. Ottobock Industrials introduced this new virtual event format after a number of trade shows and events had to be cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been shown that exoskeletons offer a wide range of positive effects. Now it’s time to move this still relatively new industry beyond its initial phase and integrate exoskeletons in day-to-day work,” said Dr Sönke Rössing, Head of Ottobock Industrials. “We want to work closely with specialists in industrial science, ergonomics and development as well as decision-makers in the industry, logistics and trade sectors to move this topic forwards. That’s why we introduced Exo Day so we could offer a platform to exchange ideas and share the experiences we’ve gained from using exoskeletons at more than 500 companies worldwide.”
Exoskeletons in logistics
One of the highlights of Exo Day was a panel discussion that focused on using exoskeletons in logistics. Challenges relating to occupational safety are particularly significant in this sector because employees have to cope with incredible physical strain, and technical and organisational measures frequently reach their limits. The following participants discussed current issues and potential solutions in this area:
- Prof. Lars Fritzsche, Dresden University of Technology and Head of Ergonomics at imk automotive GmbH, Chemnitz
- Prof. Dr. med. Bernd Witte, COO at B.A.D. GmbH
- Dr Ulrich Glitsch, Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IFA) of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV)
- Dr Samuel Reimer, Ottobock Industrials
The recording (in German) of the discussion on 14 May 2020 offers an overview of the various perspectives .
Active and passive exoskeletons
The second panel discussion addressed the question “Active vs. passive exoskeletons – Which solution fits best?”during the afternoon on Exo Day. The international participants from academia and industry discussed the state of the art of the various exoskeleton models and how these will develop in future.
- Marisol Barrero, CPE – Toyota Motor North America Safety Innovations Developer
- Yonnel Giovanelli, Head of the Ergonomics Division SNCF
- Prof. Dr Carisa Harris-Adamson, University of California, Berkeley
- Prof. Dr Maury Nussbaum, Virginia Tech
- William Billotte, PhD – Director of Global Exo Technology Programs ASTM
- Dr Samuel Reimer, Ottobock Industrials
In addition to sharing scientific insights, for example regarding efforts to standardise exoskeletons, the experts also shared practical experiences in the automotive and rail sectors. They included Marisol Barrero, who spoke about how exoskeletons are being used at Toyota Motor North America: “What we have used so far are strictly passive shoulder exoskeletons [for overhead work]. We started tinkering playing with shoulder exoskeletons in 2016 […] in 2019 we actually rolled them out as required personal protective equipment.” The participants also discussed the research focus areas and criteria that will help exoskeletons become an integral part of day-to-day work.
“One of the key aspects for their success is the human factor, which means putting users’ needs front and centre,” commented Dr Rössing. “Every workplace needs to be considered individually, as requirements vary greatly. An exoskeleton doesn’t just need to work – that is, reduce physical strain. It also has to be comfortable and easy to use.”
A recording of the panel discussion is available via this link.