The new Paexo Back assists employees who lift heavy loads, as seen here at the Ottobock logistics centre in Duderstadt. The exoskeleton noticeably relieves the lower back by up to 25 kilograms, without limiting freedom of movement.
Virtual world premiere of the Paexo Back (due to the cancellation of LogiMAT 2020)
Personnel shortages, aging workforce, high turnover and time missed due to physical strain – these are just some of the challenges currently faced by the growing logistics sector. Despite a high degree of automation, the “human factor” continues to play a key role, such as loading and unloading lorries with parcels. Doing this kind of labour puts a strain on employees’ backs. This can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. These disorders are the leading cause of incapacitation in the workplace throughout Europe. It is common in Germany for workers in the logistics sector to take up to 25 sick days per year. Because of this, logistics service providers, warehouse operators and the retail trade in particular are looking for solutions to make lifting heavy loads less of a health concern.
Ottobock is presenting such an innovation, the new Paexo Back exoskeleton, for the first time – in a virtual world premiere on 10 March. Unfortunately, a personal presentation of this innovative product at LogiMAT in Stuttgart (10 – 12 March 2020) is not possible as the trade show was cancelled by the organiser at short notice. Instead, interested parties can inform themselves about the effects of the exoskeleton online via the interactive live stream which begins at 3:00 pm at www.paexo.com/paexo-back (in German). After the product presentation, spectators and journalists can pose questions directly to Dr. Sönke Rössing, Head of Ottobock Industrials.
“Without limiting freedom of movement, the Paexo Back relieves the lumbar spine by up to 25 kilograms while lifting,” said Dr. Sönke Rössing. “Our goal was to develop an assistance system for warehouse workers that performs at least as well as an exoskeleton with a drive system, but works mechanically and can therefore be incorporated into day-to-day logistics quickly and cost effectively. We succeeded with the Paexo Back.”
Biomechanical active principle relieves the back
The medical technology company Ottobock developed the Paexo Back in cooperation with logistics experts and employees in warehousing and parcel distribution centres. The exoskeleton functions according to a biomechanical principle: like with a backpack, the load is supported on the shoulders and transferred to the thighs with the help of the exoskeleton’s support structure. An energy store absorbs energy while bending and releases it again during lifting. This results in noticeable relief of up to 25 kilograms for the lower back. “Otherwise such values are only achieved by using battery-powered drive systems. However, these are considerably heavier and more complex to use,” Rössing explained. The Paexo Back weighs approximately four kilograms. It can be put on and taken off within 20 seconds and is individually adaptable at multiple points using an intuitive sizing system (S, M, L, XL).
The purely mechanical control device is located at hip height and forms the heart of the system – a technological worldwide innovation. It can differentiate between bending and walking and automatically deactivates itself while walking to provide full freedom of movement. The degree of support is continuously variable using the rotary knob for adjustment to different work steps.
Test options and availability
Starting on 4 May 2020, logistics companies will be able to test the Paexo Back in their warehouses or shipping and receiving workstations. The test is accompanied by an employee from Ottobock Industrials with experience in the implementation of ergonomics measures. The personal contact person assists with selecting appropriate workstations, on-site training for the employees, answering questions and helping with the evaluation.
Three different test packages starting at 4,900 EUR are available depending on the desired duration and number of users or workstations. This cost can be offset against the price of a future exoskeleton purchase. The Paexo Back can be ordered now for purchase and will be delivered starting on 1 August 2020. It costs 5,900 EUR or can be leased starting at 69 EUR per month.
For a personal quotation and further information, interested parties can contact Ottobock Industrials by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (+49 5527 848-1482). Logistics experts and officials for ergonomics can experience the use of the exoskeleton in person and obtain advice during the “Paexo Back Experience” on 14 May 2020 in the Ottobock logistics centre in Duderstadt, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Since 2012, Ottobock has been researching innovative solutions to make jobs in industry, logistics and the trade sector more ergonomic. The goal is to provide relief for people who perform physically demanding tasks, thereby creating healthier working conditions. Ottobock Industrials offers a wide range of passive exoskeletons and ergonomics solutions such as the Paexo Shoulder and Paexo Neck to assist with overhead work, and the Paexo Thumb and Paexo Wrist to relieve the thumb or wrist.