Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Admin
Wearable gadgets that work in tandem with the user are known as exoskeletons. Exoskeletons are devices that are worn on the user’s body and operate as enhancers, enhancing, reinforcing, or reconstructing human performance. Exoskeletons, which were originally created for military use and patient mobility and rehabilitation, are increasingly showing up on construction sites.
These mechanical suits that “augment” with human operatives help to safeguard employees from manual handling accidents and the risk of hand-arm vibration while also delivering significant productivity increases. Live testing on construction sites in the past year produced results that appear to be driving the development and use of exoskeletons in the construction sector in the coming years.
What Are Exoskeletons in Construction?
Exoskeletons, also known as exosuits, are wearable equipment with motorized joints that help with lifting, weight distribution, posture correction, and other functions to reduce strain and damage. These machines are mostly used for physical rehabilitation, although construction and manufacturing employees are increasingly using them.
Exoskeletons function differently depending on which portion of the body they’re attached to and how they’re powered. To lessen continuous strain and boost endurance, some models move weight from one part of the body to another, while others use grasping tools to improve a user’s strength. The method for accomplishing this differs depending on the type of exoskeleton.
Types of construction Exoskeletons
Exoskeletons can be entirely mechanical or a combination of mechanics and electricity, depending on the manufacturer. Depending on the suit and its function, frames can be made of harsh materials like metal or soft materials like linen and textiles.
Construction Exoskeletons products can be utilized in the construction industry
There are several types of exoskeleton products that specifically assist construction workers. A few of them are listed below with their benefits:
Iron hand: Power gloves
Power gloves are fitted around the hand to improve dexterity for persons who have difficulty handling tools and materials due to weakness or other difficulties. When handling heavy hand tools or picking up goods, the enhanced grip comes in handy.
Bio servo’s Iron hand is a soft power glove with sensors that detect the user’s natural movement. When the glove detects that the user is ready to grasp an object, it boosts power in proportion to the weight of the object. It also gathers information to assess gripping circumstances that may be hazardous to the user’s health.
Ekso Bionics EVO: Arm and Shoulder Support
Workers who move heavy tools and materials above the waist can benefit from these exosuits. For overhead jobs like drilling, cutting, and grinding, exosuits with arm and shoulder support are perfect. They provide support for both shoulders and arms, reducing the strain of holding heavy tools for long periods of time.
The EVO from Ekso Bionics has springs in both arms to assist with lifting, whilst the Airframe Exoskeleton from Levitate Technologies uses a pulley system and SuitX’s shoulderX employs springs. Because they’re lightweight, low-profile, and don’t obstruct mobility, these are all good examples of shoulder support exoskeletons.
V3 BackX: Back Support
Exosuits with back support are often worn across the shoulders, back, and waist to relieve back strain caused by carrying large objects. Depending on the manufacturer, certain back support exoskeletons can also correct your posture when bending or lifting.
The backX exosuit by SuitX is meant to alleviate back and spine stress while stooping, squatting, and moving heavy objects. This device does not require energy to operate, and it is lightweight and flexible enough to allow workers to move freely.
Chairless Chair 2.0: Standing and Crouching Support
Exosuits that lock in place redistribute weight to the ground and relieve pressure on the knees and legs. When standing or squatting for lengthy periods of time, reduces the strain on joints and muscles. These technologies also allow users to “sit” when chairs aren’t accessible or might otherwise jeopardize worker safety or productivity. This is a useful feature for construction workers who spend much of their day standing.
The Noonee Chairless Chair 2.0 improves on the previous model by lowering the overall weight of the product and updating the materials for comfort and breathability. SuitX’s legX is another alternative that works with tool belts and comes with tailored work boots for enhanced comfort. Both products detect whether the user is walking, crouching, or standing and modify their settings accordingly.
Guardian XO: Whole-Body Suit
Exosuits that cover the entire body give support to reduce strain, increase productivity, and improve strength. Mechanical and electrical whole-body suits are available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, as previously described.
Sarcos just unveiled the Guardian XO, its newest full-body electric suit. While walking at a normal pace, a single charge can last up to eight hours and uses only 400 watts of electricity (90 percent less than similar machines). Users may also “hot-swap” batteries without losing power and lift up to 200 pounds without straining.
How Do Exoskeletons Make Construction Workers Safer?
Exoskeletons make construction workers safer by decreasing the pressure that repeated labor and protracted jobs place on joints and muscles. This is due to the fact that the skeleton makes large equipment and objects easier to move, aids in carrying and lifting, and decreases the impact of holding heavy machines for extended periods of time.
Musculoskeletal Disorders are injuries caused by repetitive movement and exposure to continual stress, vibration, and awkward placement and movement.
How Exoskeletons Are Being Used?
It would be a major advance if wearable technology could prevent half of all overexertion and strain injuries. Reducing the impact of workers’ daily jobs could result in a healthier, livelier, and more resilient workforce. Exoskeletons come in a variety of shapes and sizes today.
Power gloves are used to help in material and tool grasping and holding. These machines serve to strengthen the wearer’s grip and increase dexterity.
Exoskeletons with back support are essential for lifting, bending, and reaching. Back strain and injury are among the most common strain and injury locations. Supporting back health also helps to maintain the health of the arms, neck, and legs. While conducting tasks, these gadgets assist in maintaining appropriate posture and reducing backpressure.
Contractors who perform a lot of overhead work will benefit from Arm and Shoulder Support. These machines could be extremely beneficial to electricians, drywallers, and ceiling specialists. The weight of these exoskeletons is distributed from the shoulders and arms, reducing the strain on these muscle groups.
Exoskeletons for crouching and standing can give much-needed support to folks who spend most of their day standing. Drywall installation, drilling, and bricklaying are a few examples of vocations where this type of exoskeleton could be beneficial.
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The full-body exoskeleton is the final option. This type of exoskeleton can help with lifting, transporting goods, carrying tools around the job site, and other chores.
Other types of exoskeleton-like equipment are employed on the job site in addition to these examples. Another example of how these ground-breaking products may help contractors every day, regardless of their work, is arms that act as a support system for tools.
Benefits of Exoskeleton in the construction industry
There are numerous duties in construction that can result in injury. In reality, commonplace tasks such as lifting and transporting large materials are the biggest cause of strain injuries in the construction industry.
These difficulties are directly addressed by certain construction exoskeletons. According to the CDC, wearing an exoskeleton reduced pressure on the spine and reduced tiredness, among other things. A few advantages of using construction exoskeletons are listed below.
- Exoskeletons distribute weight more uniformly and lessen strain on different regions of the body, reducing damage and strain. Construction workers may experience fewer long-term injuries as a result of this.
- Increases productivity: Due to the reduced strain, construction exoskeleton users experience less weariness and can finish more work than their bodies can normally handle.
- Exoskeletons have the potential to boost worker productivity, help ageing workers, and lower the risk of musculoskeletal illnesses.
- Expands job opportunities: Contractors who are generally restricted by their age or physical limitations can now participate in more difficult operations.
Probable risk factors in the utilization of Exoskeleton
While these advantages sound appealing, exoskeletons also present new risks. It showed that wearing the gadget increased chest pressure. Workers, particularly those with pre-existing diseases like chronic obstructive lung disease, may suffer as a result (COPD).
Exoskeleton use may also pose other dangers. Because of the weight of equipment designed to expand reach, the spine may be overloaded inadvertently. The poor fit could result in pressure wounds or nerve compression. Infectious infections could spread if hygiene measures for devices used by multiple users are not followed.
Some exoskeletons are bulky or clumsy, limiting users’ movement, such as their ability to move out of the way of a falling object. They may also cause problems by shifting the user’s center of gravity, resulting in a weakened recovery strategy, the human body’s response to a loss of balance.
It demonstrates that the employment of an exoskeleton has a negative impact on human recovery after a collision. Working in close quarters and at heights is typical in the construction sector, therefore this is very crucial.
Human variables associated with the adoption of a wearable device, such as reduced attentiveness or diversion from other safety measures, may potentially have an impact on safety. These workplace challenges require high-quality research to detect dangers, address risk reduction and produce best practises and guidelines.
There may now be inadequate data to evaluate complete safety profiles or health impacts of exoskeleton use over time. Future studies will be required to develop suitable standards before construction workers are exposed to the risks connected with their use. If they are used on-site in the future, site safety will be much improved