Dr. Michiel de Looze, Ph.D., senior scientist at TNO (Netherlands Institute for Applied Research), is involved in research and innovation in close collaboration with industry. His focus is on collaborative robots and exoskeletons. His research gives input to their design and implementation, mainly in the manufacturing, logistics and construction sector. In field and laboratory studies he evaluates their usability and acceptance, and their effects on physical loading, cognitive loading, fatigue and performance. For his work on exoskeletons see TNO iBotics Exoskeletons – YouTube.
Reducing the barriers for implementation of exoskeletons in practice
Several arm-support and back support are ready for application in the field , but companies and sector organisation face various barriers to adopt them. One of these is difficulty in pre-assessing their usefulness, human body impact, worker acceptance and business case.
How to address, reduce or eliminate these barriers and accelerate the adoption of industrial exoskeletons? Some strategies will be presented.
Dr. Petra Abele is an occupational psychologist. For the last five years she has worked in the Health and Safety Department of the Social Insurance for Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture – SVLFG. One of the issues she is currently working on is the use of exoskeletons in agriculture, forestry and horticulture to enhance ergonomics.
Dr. Michael Skipper Andersen received his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering with specialisation in Intelligent Autonomous Systems from Aalborg University in 2004. In 2009, he earned his PhD degree from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Following a short period as a Software Engineer at AnyBody Technology, Aalborg, Denmark, he was employed as an Assistant Professor (2009-2012) and later in his current position as Associate Professor at Department Materials and Production, Aalborg University, Denmark, with both positions being associated with the AnyBody Research Group. Dr. Andersen has focused his research on musculoskeletal modelling and currently focuses on applying patient-specific models to study knee osteoarthritis. In 2014, he headed the group of international researchers that won the “fifth grand challenge competition to predict in vivo knee loads” and in the following year, he was awarded a prestigious Sapere Aude starting grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research. Recently, he has been awarded a large national grant to start a new centre on mathematical modelling of knee osteoarthritis at Aalborg University. He has published more than 210 papers in peer-reviewed international journals and national and international conferences.
Israel Benavides is a Program Ergonomist with the Ergo team at VOME (Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering), Ford of Europe. In the role he monitors the design, development, and manufacturing of new vehicles to meet the Ford Ergonomics Global Standards. Since 2017 he has participated in Exoskeleton line trials, analysing 14 different models (4 for back and 10 for shoulders) during Ergonomic support at Ford Valencia plant in Spain. This has been in collaboration with the Biomechanical Institute of the Valencia University and the Hamburg University. In 2018 Israel earned the Spanish National Prevention Award ASEPEYO for investigations on exoskeletons. He has presented at several conferences and exoskeleton events in Spain and Germany. In 1990 he received his Nuclear Engineer with Master of Sciences degree from the Moscow Energetic Institute.
Klaus Bengler graduated in psychology at the University of Regensburg in 1991 and received his PhD in 1995 in cooperation with BMW at the Institute of Psychology. After his PhD he was active on topics of software ergonomics and evaluation of human-machine interfaces. In 1997 he joined BMW where he was responsible for the HMI project of the MOTIV program, a national follow on the program of PROMETHEUS. Within BMW Research and Technology he was responsible for projects on HMI research and leader of the usability lab. Since May 2009 he is head of the Institute of Ergonomics at Technische Universität München which is active in research areas such as digital human modeling, human robot cooperation, driver assistance HMI and human reliability. He is leading the German Standardization Group (FAKRA) AK-10 “Mensch als Fahrzeugführer” and is an active member of ISO TC22 SC13 WG8 “Road vehicles – Ergonomic aspects of transport information and control systems” as well as member of VDI working group “Menschliche Zuverlässigkeit.” He is a member of the working group Research of the Round Table Automated Driving (BMVI) and is project leader of the project column Human Factors in Traffic in the German Research Initiative UR:BAN funded by BMWi.
Terry Butler is a Certified Safety Professional and ASSE professional member who has focused his 35-year career in global manufacturing on implementing innovative solutions for protecting employees and is currently President of Lean Steps Consulting Inc. Over the last six years Terry has been working with Iowa State University and global manufacturers taking the lead in the industry to quantify the physical benefits of working with and without the aid of exoskeleton technology. He has authored several articles focused on the use of exoskeletons for worker safety. Terry sits on the ASTM F48 committee for Exoskeletons and Exosuits and holds two BS degrees from Illinois State University in Occupational Safety Engineering and Industrial Technology.
Dr. Simona Crea received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Pisa, both cum laude. She received her doctoral degree in Biorobotics from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna University in 2015. Since 2017 she has worked as an assistant professor in biomedical engineering at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. Her research interests are in the field of human-robot interaction, control, and assessment of wearable robots in various application domains.
Dr. Lars Fritzsche earned his Diploma (2006) and PhD (2010) in Work & Organizational Psychology at Technical University Dresden, Germany. He has been working in his current position as Division Manager Ergonomics at imk automotive GmbH since 2012. He has managed more than 100 projects in applied ergonomic workplace design and consulting, including several R&D projects with focus on digital human modeling and ergonomic simulation. In 2017 he was also named honorary professor “Ergonomics and Occupational Health Management” at Technical University Dresden.
Dr. Jason Gillette received a B.S. degree in Engineering Science, an M.E. degree in Engineering Mechanics, and a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering/Engineering Mechanics from Iowa State University in 1991, 1993, and 1999. From 1999 to 2002, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar with the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Kentucky. He is currently an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Education with the Department of Kinesiology at Iowa State University. His research interests include biomechanics, ergonomics, and injury mechanisms. He utilizes video, force, and EMG measurements combined with musculoskeletal modeling to analyze human motion and estimate loading on the human body. Dr. Gillette is a member of the ASTM International F48 Exoskeletons and Exosuits Committee. One of his current projects involves assessing a passive shoulder support exoskeleton in lab-based, manufacturing, and construction settings using EMG and motion analysis to quantify effects on muscle activation and fatigue.
Ulrich Glitsch is Senior Scientist at the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA). He works there in the fields of biomechanics and ergonomics in the section Musculoskeletal Workload since 2001. Ulrich has a background in sports science and mathematics. His special interests cover the musculoskeletal modelling and motion analysis. During recent years, he developed biomechanical approaches and theoretical models for the analysis of industrial exoskeletons within different research projects.
Carlos Rodriguez Guerrero is a senior scientist at the Robotics and Multibody Mechanics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research contributions have been focused on developing theoretical and applied solutions to improve physical human robot interaction, using human centred approaches that include the human morphology, physiology and psychology into the loop. He has more than 13 years of research and working experience (in both academia and industry) in different fields of applied robotics, in particular in design, control and testing of assistive, augmentation and rehabilitation technologies (both exoskeletons and end effector) with state of the art actuation and control systems.
As an Industrial Engineer and Ergonomist at Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, Dr. Ralph Hensel is responsible for testing, piloting and implementing occupational exoskeletons for industrial applications in production and logistics. In the light of his academic background in work physiology, he is strongly involved in research in close collaboration with scientific institutes. In combined field and lab studies, he evaluates usability and acceptance of exoskeletons, their effects on workload relief and load redistribution as well as fatigue and performance, giving input to their further development and implementation in industrial practice.
Lukas Krämer is the project manager of WeldPlus for augmented reality based welding simulation with Soldamatic. Since 2016 he is responsible for consulting and training for digital transformation from conventional to digitalized welder training. Furthermore, he is responsible for the cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute and the use of exoskeletons in the digital qualification of welders.
Cordula Kropp holds the Chair of Sociology of Technology at the University of Stuttgart and is Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies at the University of Stuttgart (ZIRIUS). She is the Lead-PI for humanities and social sciences in the Cluster of Excellence “Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture” (IntCDC). Prof. Kropp is an expert in science technology studies and examines socio-technical transformation processes in the course of increasing automation, including the skills required in dealing with cyber-physical systems.
Jérémy Lefint is a PhD student in the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and is a Scientific Assistant at Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart. He is currently working on his thesis, focused on the dilemma of subjective factors and their integration into the product development process. With more than seven years of professional experience, he was from the beginning, a part of the Exoskeleton Team in the Department of Biomechatronic at the Fraunhofer Institute.
Dr. Jawad Masood is the team leader in applied wearable and human-in-the-loop robotics at the Automotive Technology Center of Galicia. His research focuses on seeking objective and subjective evidence that exoskeleton and exosuits are beneficial for industrial applications. He is particularly interested in discovering, understanding, and relating patterns in the measurement data to construct high fidelity information.
Christophe Maufroy, PhD has a double Master Degree in Mechanical Engineering (ULB – Ecole Centrale Paris) and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Electro-Communications (Japan) for his work on bio-inspired control of quadruped robot locomotion. Since 2009, he has lead the development of many robotics systems in several European and German national projects, such as the EU FP7 Myorobotics project, which was awarded the German High-Tech Champion 2013 price. He is currently leading the group “Physical Assistance Systems and Smart Sensors” at the Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart, Germany. His main interest lies in the design of bioinspired and wearable robots, in particular active exoskeletons.
Jesús Ortiz earned his PhD in New Automobile Technologies, University of Zaragoza (2008). He worked as a researcher in the Area of Transports and in the Area of Mechanics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Zaragoza. In 2004 he was a guest professor at the “ENSI de Bourges.” Since 2006 he has worked at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) and he is currently the leader of the Wearable Robots, Exoskeletons and Exosuits Leboratory (XoLab) at the department of Advanced Robotics (ADVR). His principal research field is industrial exoskeletons and soft wearable assistive devices. Previous research experience includes motion bases, driving simulators, teleoperation, telepresence, teleexistence, virtual reality, GPGPU computing and medical robotics. He has participated in six European Projects, being the coordinator of the XoSoft EU Project, and in more than 10 international and national projects, including the management of a recent project funded by the Italian Workers Compensation Authority (INAIL). He has over 70 international publications. He has received two awards in 2005 for two different research works about teleoperation and driving simulators, and in CLAWAR, WeRob and CBS conferences for his works on exoskeletons.
Christiane Pohlmann is an international welding engineer and an engineer for safety and health. For the last 12 years she has worked for Schweißtechnische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt Nord, an institute for welding training and research in Hamburg. In this role she focuses on training and examination for welders and welding supervisors. She implements occupational safety themes and Virtual Welding Training Systems into all level of education.
Lennart Ralfs studied Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Hamburg (HWI). In operations management, he has international professional experience in the industry. Since 2020, he has been working as a research assistant and PhD student at the professorship for Production Technology of the Institute of Mechatronics at the University of Innsbruck. He researches the future workplace and methods for the implementation and evaluation of exoskeletons in operational work processes.
Simon Riela has more than 20 years’ experience in construction. He is a Segment Manager at Hilti BU Diamond, focused on the marketing and development of new products. Working with his team in this role, he defines the segment vision, selects the opportunities, describes the requirements of the new products, coordinates projects and ensures launch organization in all the markets. He was part of the discussions that led to a partnership between Hilti and Ottobock to introduce exoskeletons to construction and Hilti customers. In order to prepare EXO-O1 overhead exoskeleton, he organized pilots to sense the markets, validated the suitable applications cross trades and finally introduced EXO-01 in Europe and the USA over the last year.
As the Ergonomics & Safety Product Manager at ITURRI, Daniel is responsible for ergonomics and consulting solutions. He is an expert in selection, use and implementation of industrial exoskeletons. Daniel is focused on innovation – detecting industry needs, development and implementation of new solutions in health and safety. He is a chemical engineer and Master in HSE Ergonomics.
Massimo Sartori is a Professor and Chair of Neuromechanical Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering Technology of the University of Twente, where he also directs the Neuromechanical Modelling and Engineering Lab. His research focuses on interfacing wearable robotic technologies with the neuromuscular system for enhancing human movement.
Dr. Urs Schneider is Director of the medical and biotech section at Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart, Germany and his own highly interdisciplinary Biomechatronics department. He also serves as head of the Human Technology Interaction Department at IFF, University of Stuttgart and teaches medical device mechatronics at Stuttgart University. With more than 15 years of mechatronics engineering experience and a doctorate degree from Heidelberg University, he specializes in mechanical and mechatronic human machine interfaces in orthopedics, prosthetics and orthotics and human ergonomic and safety aspects.
Mathilde Schwartz is a PhD student in the French National Research and Safety Institute (INRS) and at the University of Lorraine. She is currently working on her thesis focused on the physiological consequences of back support exoskeletons.
Dr. Maziar Sharbafi is a senior IEEE member with more than 70 international peer reviewed publications. He received his B.Sc. degree from the Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran, in 2003, and M.Sc. and PhD degrees from the University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, in 2006 and 2013, all in control engineering. He earned his second PhD in Biomechanics in 2017 from Technical University of Darmstadt. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Tehran and a Guest Researcher with the Lauflabor Locomotion Laboratory, TU Darmstadt. He is now the principal investigator in EPA (electric-pneumatic actuator) project series (EPA and EPA-2) granted by German Research Foundation (DFG). His research interests include bioinspired locomotion control based on conceptual and analytic approaches, postural stability, and the application of dynamical systems and nonlinear control to hybrid systems such as legged robots and exoskeletons. He was involved in conducting research and supervising students in European and German funded projects (e.g, Balance and BioBiped project).
Mark Tröster is an associate researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute IPA in Stuttgart, in the group Assistive Systems and Smart Sensors at the department Biomechatronic Systems. He has both Bachelor and Master degrees in Mechatronics from the University of Stuttgart and is currently focusing on his PhD-thesis on the biomechanical modeling of combined exoskeleton-human models for industrial worker support.
Georg Wagner (Industrial Lead Healthcare & Lifescience @ Raiffeisen Bank International AG) has more than 19 years of extensive experience in the international healthcare market. He is a proven specialist in building up new global markets with novel products in the surgical and wearable robotics field. As a member of euRobotics he is actively supporting and shaping the European robotics roadmap and funding programs.