Audi trials two exoskeletons for overhead work
Exoskeletons on the automotive production line can help make strenuous or repetitive tasks less physically demanding for employees. Audi is now equipping some of its workforce with such support tools.
Around 60 employees at Audi's Ingolstadt facility are helping to trial exoskeletons from Ottobock and Skelex in the paint, assembly and toolmaking shops at the site. Workers will use these external support structures when installing brake lines, fixing panels under car bodies and in the application of corrosion and sealing protection.
Both the Paexo (from Ottobock) and the Skelex 360 (from Skelex) mechanical exoskeletons are worn on the shoulders like a backpack and held in place by a belt around the hips. The idea is to transfer some of the weight of the wearer's arms to the hips when overhead tasks are performed, to reduce the strain on the muscles and joints in the shoulder area.
This is not Audi's first exoskeleton rodeo, the German auto maker says it's had "promising results" from previous pilot projects. And other manufacturers are also looking into easing the strain on workers by employing exoskeletons, including Ford and Hyundai.
"Our employees are our most important asset," said Audi's Peter Kössler. "By constantly reducing the burden at the workstations, we can enhance their health and wellbeing. New technologies such as exoskeletons, with which we are making production more and more progressive, also contribute to this."