Order picking is a standard task in logistics that is difficult to fully automate due to the variety of products. A passive exoskeleton can therefore be a strategy to support the order picker. This field study investigated the effect on muscle activity and posture of the back and shoulders.
Ten operators performed the task of order picking cheese in real life conditions 1,5 h without and 1,5 h with exoskeleton. The electromyography (EMG) of m. Erector Spinae and m. Trapezius pars descendens was measured. The posture of the back and upper arms were recorded by motion sensors. The subjective experience was questioned on a 5 point scale.
During order picking the back muscle activity was 9 and 12% lower when wearing the exoskeleton, respectively for the left and right side. The back was bent more than 30° for 26% of the time with exoskeleton and 23% without. The difference was not significant. The muscle activity and postures in the right and left shoulder also didn’t show meaningful differences. Subjectively the physical load was experienced positively with the exoskeleton. However, fatigue and safety require some attention.
The practical implication of an exoskeleton in the prevention of low back pain is discussed. Due to the rather small benefit this will probably not be the only solution to reduce the physical load of a job.
Exoskeleton Muscle activity EMG Posture
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