Darmstadt, September 25, 2019 – It is not only the vehicles from BMW that are becoming increasingly more connected, intelligent and safe. Cutting-edge technology is also being put to use at the BMW branch in Darmstadt. In cooperation with the University of Siegen, the use of exoskeletons is now being tested in pilot project in the branch’s workshop. As such, Darmstadt is a pioneer in this development in Germany.
Exoskeletons are human-machine systems combining human intelligence with mechanical power by supporting or even amplifying the wearer’s movements. Exoskeletons don’t serve to transform humans into superheroes, but rather to provide support for physical work, reduce illnesses caused by excessive strain and prevent accidents at the workplace.
The intelligent power suits from robotics specialist German Bionic are being used in the pilot project. The company, headquartered in Augsburg and with branches in Berlin and Tokyo, is the first European manufacturer to develop and mass-produce exoskeletons for use in industrial environments. The German Bionic Cray X model is worn like a backpack and can be individually fitted to almost any body size with its adjustable straps. It adapts effortlessly to the employee’s movements and reinforces them without encroaching on their working environment. At the same time, personal mobility remains virtually unimpaired. The Cray X was specially designed for the manual handling of goods and tools and provides relief for the lower back when lifting from unergonomic positions by actively imitating and amplifying movements by up to the equivalent of 25 kg.
As a result, the deployment of exoskeleton is being tested in order to alleviate physical strain on branch employees during the tire-changing season and thereby protect the health of employees in the long term. One of the exoskeletons will also be simultaneously tested under real conditions as part of a laboratory test in cooperation with the University of Siegen, in order to objectively examine the effect that the active exoskeleton has on the physical demands placed on employees. One thing is already certain: Industry 4.0 is already part of the daily routine at BMW’s Darmstadt branch.