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Exoskeletons for Logistics

With this project VIL wants to examine how the new generation of exoskeletons can be used for manuel activities in the logistics sector. The objective is to reduce physical strain for employees and to increase productivity of repetitive tasks and heavy lifting.

status: Running | thema: Digitalization | type: Regional


The rise of bionic technology, like ‘wearables’ and ‘exoskeletons’, push the physical boundaries of the human body. Smart clothing, smart glasses, bionic arms and even smart contact lenses have the potential to support logistic employees when it comes to process execution or optimization and communication, and also to minimize health and security risks.
Exoskeletons can be considered as ‘wearable robot suits’ that boost the human body in terms of strength and endurance. This technology is currently used for rehabilitation in the health sector and for handling heavy equipment in the industry.

Opportunities

  • To reduce physical strain when doing repetitive manuel tasks (order picking, packing, loading and unloading, …). Physical strain can lead to physical ailments, reduced productivity, low motivation and finally absenteeism
  • To support older operators with physically demanding tasks
  • To increase productivity of repetitive tasks and heavy lifting

Specific acitivities

  • To analyze the currently available exoskeleton technology: market players and features: maximum weight, movements,…
  • To discover ‘best practices’ and to provide insight in the lessons learned. It could be useful to study best practices from the industry and the health sector
  • To map out logistic tasks that could qualify for the use of exoskeletons. These tasks are to be described accurately (which physical demand, type of tasks, frequency,…)
  • To analyze and map out possible logistic applications, with their medical and legal requirements
  • To map out the different useable exoskeletons with the right qualifications
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • To perform feasibility tests and draw up a roadmap

Practical details

Start: November 2017

Total lead time: 17 months

Participating companies

Fourteen companies: Atlas Copco, bpost, Colruyt, Conway, Danone, Delhaize, Gates Distribution Center, H.Essers, Honda Motor Europe Logistics, Katoen Natie, Limburg.Net, Mainfreight Logistic Services, Oesterbank and Sortbat

 

 

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