Exoskeletons could help prevent injuries to warehouse workers

German company DB Schenker has been trialling the use of exoskeleton machines to prevent injuries at its logistics warehouses in Germany.

Repeatedly lifting heavy items can strain back muscles and lumbar vertebrae which causes health problems. Exoskeletons are machines that are strapped on workers to make lifting easier.

In the German trials, workers wearing exoskeletons equipment repeatedly lifted items weighing as much as 15kg from warehouse storage racks and placed them on pallets. They wore the equipment for up to four hours at a time.

Gerald Müller from DB Schenker said that the trials were a success, noting:

“If our positive expectations are confirmed, we will proceed from the test mode to a roll-out mode and look for opportunities to use exoskeletons beyond Germany and beyond logistics operations.”

Müller said that health and safety in logistics starts with optimising the warehouse ergonomics. DB Shenker has redesigned warehouse packing tables to make them more ergonomic and modified lift trucks and lifting aids. The company has analysed picking tasks to minimise walking distances and reduced the amount of bending, turning and lifting workers are required to do. He said that his company sees preventive measures as the starting point towards ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees.

Many warehouses owners are looking to robot technology to save workers having to manually lift items when picking orders. This comes at a hefty price, so less costly exoskeletons as used by DB Schenker could be the answer to make working in warehouses safer.

Posted by Mark
25th September 2019
Health & Safety

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