Exoskeletons pass practical trial: technology takes the strain for warehouse employees

DACHSER has tested active exoskeletons produced by German Bionic under everyday work conditions in the warehouse. The technology will be rolled out at additional locations.

As early as 2019, DACHSER conducted initial warehouse tests, primarily of passive exoskeletons with mechanical spring systems, rails, or weights that assist in lifting loads. In the meantime, active exoskeletons have reached a level of maturity that can improve warehouse processes as well. Active exoskeletons use battery-powered robotic motors to facilitate lifting operations, greatly relieving strain on the lower back for anyone lifting heavier loads. Since wearers experience less fatigue, they are more able to maintain good posture.

Active exoskeletons produced by the German manufacturer German Bionic were put through their paces in the warehouse at DACHSER’s Magdeburg logistics centre in the spring. The aim was to gather empirical data under real conditions and to obtain feedback from employees. “Cray X” devices were deployed to support various processes in incoming goods, order picking, and at the packing table. The exoskeleton can provide 30 kilograms of relief per lifting operation and also assists with carrying.

“The positive effects of the exoskeletons soon became clear,” says Stephan Heinemann, Contract Logistics Manager at DACHSER’s Magdeburg logistics centre . “Our employees benefit from direct relief when handling heavier loads as well as from ergonomic body stabilization. That has long-term advantages, too, since the exoskeletons prevent overexertion and workplace accidents that would be damaging to health.” Another impressive aspect of the devices was their ease of use, which meant that the testers accepted them in no time.

Other locations in the DACHSER network will also use the new technology in their warehouses, including the Ulm logistics centre starting in the fall. “By introducing new technologies and innovations, we’re continuously working to make DACHSER’s processes, including those in the warehouse, more efficient and effective. Above all, this includes providing support to people in all aspects of their warehouse activities,” adds Thomas Klare, Head of Corporate Contract Logistics at DACHSER. “Our use of active exoskeletons is an impressive demonstration of how modern technology not only makes work easier straight away, but can also have a positive impact on our logistics operatives’ long-term health.”