In order to improve the ergonomics of the production employees, the automobile manufacturer Audi is testing two exoskeletons as part of a comparative study. The outer support structures should primarily support activities in the overhead area. A total of around 60 employees wear the tools over several weeks at selected work stations in assembly, painting and tool making at the Ingolstadt location.
For some process steps in production, overhead work is inevitable. When technical and organizational measures for more ergonomics have been exhausted, exoskeletons can often offer further support. Audi is currently testing two of these aids - the Paexo model from the manufacturer Ottobock and the Skelex 360 model from the company Skelex - in the paint shop, assembly and tool shop at the Ingolstadt location.
Is freedom of movement restricted? Is the material still comfortable when worn for a long time? Or how strongly do the exoskeletons support the employees in carrying out their work? The answers to such questions should help in the practical tests to adapt the exoskeletons as best as possible to the tasks of the employees. They are tested in both static and dynamic activities, e.g. when installing the brake lines, screwing the underbody paneling and applying corrosion and sealing protection. Audi had already gained initial experience with exoskeletons at the Hungarian plant in Gyr. Both exoskeleton models are carried like a backpack on the shoulders and fastened with a strap around the waist. Arm rests support the arms when working overhead. They take up part of the arm weight and redirect it to the hip via support structures. This relieves the shoulders. In both cases, the relief works purely mechanically, without a motor drive.