Exoskeletons to support the automotive industry

The automotive manufacturing sector is highly automated and at the same time facing many challenges and constant changes. Increasingly, this industry finds itself confronted with an aging workforce and a lack of skilled workers. The nature of the work performed at the assembly line is repetitive and, consequently, often causing musculoskeletal pain and injuries.

Exoskeleton Automotive Use Case

In the US, every year, 10 out of 100 workers in this industry suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD), according to OSHA (2014). They are a major cause for lost workdays and one of the greatest burdens for the global economy when measured by compensation costs, lost wages, and lost productivity.

Our portfolio of exoskeletons offers various innovative devices to face this challenge in this industry. Ottobock develops state-of-the-art wearable technology that helps people protect their health over the long term as they carry out their demanding everyday working routines. 

Watch the video of the Ottobock Shoulder exoskeleton at work and see for yourself.

Shoulder exoskeletons for overhead and above-shoulder work

The focus in this sector is on the Ottobock Shoulder, an exoskeleton for overhead work and work on or above-shoulder height. The personal assistive system, which is worn on the body, supports employees globally on the assembly line when carrying out such demanding physical work. In addition, the Paexo Neck can provide relief to the cervical spine during overhead work, e.g. installations or inspections. It can be worn in combination with the Paexo Shoulder and Ottobock Shoulder. Using exoskeletons reduces physical strain and protects the musculoskeletal system.This is also confirmed in several studies and analyses.

The automotive industry is a pioneer in the use of exoskeletons. Here we witnessed how exoskeletons with various designs were used as a prevention tool and implemented and used for daily activities. We can proudly look back to great cooperations, e.g., with Volkswagen, BMW, and Toyota.
The fact that exoskeletons play an important role in the daily workflow is demonstrated repeatedly in production lines that are only partly automated and, hence, involve many manual activities. Even with optimal planning, the industry continues to come up against the limits of automation. The participation of people and their flexibility in the various tasks is therefore essential for success. And it is precisely these employees who need to be protected in a preventive manner. Exoskeletons contribute to the ergonomic design of workplaces.
Sönke Rössing, Head of Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons