Working in a car factory is definitely not an easy job. Although a lot of work nowadays is completed by robots, you still have to do a fair share of manual labour. However, manufacturers are trying to make jobs of factory workers more ergonomic. Hyundai has developed the new Vest EXoskeleton, which assists industrial workers in overhead working situations.
A significant amount of your car’s components are mounted underneath the vehicle. If you every working in an overhead situation, you know that it’s not easy. In fact, it is terribly uncomfortable. You can literally throw your back just by working overhead for too long. That is why Hyundai has developed the new Vest EXoskeleton (VEX), which is basically a wearable robot. VEX imitates the movement of human joints and actively supports that movement. It combines multiple pivot points with multi-link muscular assistance, but doesn’t even need a battery.
VEX is designed to be worn for extensive periods of time, which is why it is actually pretty light, weighing in at just 2.5 kg. It is worn like a backpack with shoulder straps, chest and waist buckles. It is easily adjustable to fit different body types and the level of support is also adjustable to 5.5 kgf. VEX can improve ergonomics, reduce fatigue and the likelihood of injury.
Hyundai thinks that VEX is perfect for those workers, who typically work a lot with their hands over their heads. For example, it will help those bolting the underside of vehicles, fitting brake tubes, and attaching exhausts. Hyundai successfully tested VEX in two of its factories in US and is now considering implementing it in other facilities. In fact, it will be for sale for other industrial actors. Hyundai says that VEX will cost 30 % less than similar products from competitors, which typically cost around 5,000 dollars.
DongJin Hyun, Head of Robotics team of Hyundai Motor Group, said: “VEX gives workers greater load support, mobility, and adaptability when operating in overhead environments. Workers will also appreciate how light VEX is to wear and work with”.
Hyundai is also developing a chairless chair called ‘Chairless EXoskeleton’ (CEX). It is another wearable robot, weighing just 1.6 kg. It allows factory workers to take a seat virtually anywhere. It is also aimed at reducing workplace fatigue by reducing the user’s back and lower body muscle activity by 40%. This should boost workers’ satisfaction as well as efficiency.
Many car manufacturers are introducing wearable devices, aimed at improving working conditions. Hyundai’s efforts are not going to be overlooked by factory workers and hopefully VEX will be popular in industrial states around the world.