Exoskeleton Technology And The Construction Market
May 30, 2017
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In our research, there are three major challenges that construction and industrial companies struggle with and are asking for solutions. They are safety, productivity, and an aging workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, in 2012 the top 10 causes of workplace injuries resulted in $60 billion of direct costs. Over exertion and repetitive motion represented more than $20 billion of those injuries. When you compare the productivity within manufacturing vs. construction during the last 25 years, manufacturing is 1.7 times more productive. There are good reasons for this, it is a more structured environment within manufacturing and the tasks are repeatable where it is easier to introduce robotics.
On the other hand, the construction jobsites are unstructured environments where skilled workers are needed to make decisions and the tasks are less repeatable. Human augmentation works best in the high task complexity, unstructured environment. The last challenge is the demographics of the workforce in U.S. construction. The percentage of workers 54 or older is growing much faster than 16-24 year olds that are entering the workforce. This is creating hiring challenges and shortages of skilled workers.
Ekso Bionics has a solution for U.S. construction and industrial companies. We have introduced our first human-augmentation product, the Ekso ZeroG4 Arm in 2016. The ZeroG4 Arm holds tools up to 36 lbs., weightless. We have found this reduces the strains and fatigue of U.S. construction workers and increases their productivity. When you operate a heavy tool for years, it breaks down the human body, this is no longer the case when you are using the Ekso.
We have seen countless examples in applications such as concrete demo, hammer drilling, grinding, and fastening where the workers are safer and double, sometimes triple their productivity. Companies can now keep senior employees working longer because of the fatigue and strain reduction by holding a heavy tool. Companies can also expand the profile of the person they hire because the tool is weightless and a smaller person can perform the task as well as a stronger, larger worker.