It is not uncommon for the oft-heavy equipment and tools used in manufacturing to lead to injury within the workforce, resulting in staffing losses for the company and pain for the employee. This near-constant threat of pain or injury can put potential manufacturers off working in the industry.
As engineers tend to, they have found a way around this. Engineers at Lockheed Martin have created the FORTIS exoskeleton, demonstrated at USA Science and Engineering Festival to show kids how robotics can help manufacturing.
Gavin Barnes, lead engineer for the FORITS exoskeleton programme, says
It has three jobs…it helps the person’s strength, their endurance and their productivity.
The exoskeleton is made mainly of two parts: the adjustable holding arm and the weight-absorbing supports.
FORTIS is holding the tool, and the weight gets transferred through the arm, through the hip joint and down to the ground around me, so the tool feels a lot lighter.
With the tool supporting the weight of the tool, up to 16 kilograms, the worker’s energy isn’t being spent on holding the tool and can instead use the tool for a much longer period of time.
That’s how it helps my endurance, because I don’t have to put all my effort and energy into holding that tool, I can focus instead on the craftsmanship at hand with really fine movement of a light tool. That’s how it helps my productivity.