UTFacultiesETDepartmentsBENewsAssistive exoskeletons in industry: a success story

Assistive exoskeletons in industry: a success story Annemiek daily wears an exoskeleton to assist her in her job

Annemiek Beudeker is an employee at Hankamp Gears, Enschede, The Netherlands. Daily activities include packaging of heavy metal gears constructed at the factory. Annemiek used to have episodes of migraine and experienced pains in neck and shoulder.

Two years ago, she was introduced to the lower back exoskeleton from Laevo in a pilot study by the University of Twente as part of the Exskallerate program. The Exskallerate program is funded by Interreg and intends to promote the use of exoskeletons in construction and manufacturing SME’s.

Annemiek is currently wearing a Laevo V2 exoskeleton 6 to 7 hours a day. It is now her second exoskeleton, which already has counted 28,092 significant bends. The first one (Laevo V1) measured a total of 30,340 bends. Since she started wearing the exoskeleton, she hasn’t skipped a day at work due to back, head or neck injuries.

“Wearing the exoskeleton results in a different and better posture, which feels more comfortable during lifting of the heavy gears,” she explains. “After a full day of work, I feel less tired. I believe that the exoskeleton helps in preventing injuries.”

Freek Tönis, CEO of Hankamp Gears, believes the use exoskeletons in his company will result in a long term sickness leave reduction of at least 10%. Although he believes in the efficiency, he thinks significant improvements, such as lowering discomfort and reduced mobility, must be made to convince the rest of his staff to accept and wear an exoskeleton.