Location: University of Twente, Building Horst, Room NH205
Date: May 19, 2021
As part of the European funded project Exskallerate, the University of Twente organized a successful workshop ‘lower back exoskeletons’, in collaboration with TNO and two suppliers of exoskeletons (Pre-Tec and Laevo). Main target of the Exskallerate project is to promote and to accelerate the use of exoskeletons into the small and medium enterprises in industry and construction where increased health problems exist as a result of intense physical activities.
Six companies considering acquiring exoskeletons (exos), each represented by two employers, attended the workshop. As suppliers, Pre-Tec and Laevo brought their back support exos: Paexo Back and Laevo V2. The participants executed work-related tasks with both exos allowing to wear each for at least 30 minutes. The tasks consisted of repacking a container, static bending while sorting, walking with the exo and (un)loading a gitter box.
The participants were very excited about the workshop and found it very helpful to wear each exo for a considerable amount of time. Regarding the overall performance of the exos, there was no fundamental difference observed between both exoskeletons, in functionality, level of support or amount of comfort. The participants felt much functional support of the exos during execution of the tasks. Due to the limited number of participants results cannot be generalized and should be interpreted carefully.
On a scale from 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent), participants graded both exos with a 7 (more than sufficient). When asked what could be improved in the current exos, primarily the level of comfort was stated. All participants believe an exo can significantly contribute to the health of the employers of their companies and see the purchase of an exoskeleton as feasible. Besides a back support, interest was shown in support for the shoulders, lower arm and legs as well.
In the next few years, the UT will organize other workshops to give more companies the opportunity to try out and assess exos in a working environment setting.