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Hilti, Ottobock bring Exoskeleton solutions to the construction industry


Hilti, a construction technology group, and Ottobock, a medical technology company, are combining their know-how in the fields of safety, health protection and biomechanics to expand their portfolio of ergonomic solutions

Such solutions open up new opportunities in health protection and productivity and represent a future market for the construction industry.

“Exoskeletons are an important trend having great relevance for us. They provide relief for physically demanding tasks, such as those performed on construction sites every day. In Ottobock we have the ideal partner to combine our user protection and ergonomics knowledge with 100 years of biomechanical expertise. Our technology partnership will serve as the basis for the development of additional innovative and customer-oriented systems,” explained Johannes Wilfried Huber, head of Hilti’s Diamond Systems Business Unit.

“There is a great deal of potential for solutions that reduce the physical strain on workers in the construction industry. We want to jointly expand this pillar in the coming years,” said Dr Sönke Rössing, head of Ottobock Industrials. This division has been developing industrial exoskeletons from the Paexo product range since 2012 to create healthier workplaces.

Hilti has launched the first joint product, the EXO-O1. This is a passive model that does not require an energy supply. The arms’ weight is transferred to the hips through the forearm supports using the mechanical cable pulling technology. Independent studies and Ottobock research have shown that this reduces the muscle’s peak load and relieves shoulders by up to 47%.

Hilti stated that Exoskeletons can make a significant contribution to health protection, particularly in the case of work performed above the shoulder and overhead. As far as the construction industry is concerned, this is aimed at serial or continuous activities. Fatigue is reduced, too. As a result, this type of work can be carried out over a longer period of time with much higher productivity.

Over the longer term, preventive relief can help to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the shoulder area. These are some of the most common causes of worker disability in the construction industry and represent a significant cost factor for companies and health care systems.