How smart technology can help with manual load handling
Due to mechanization and automation the amount of physical load work has been progressively reduced. Yet for those working in intralogistics, the manual handling of material is still very much part of the job. Partners in the “SensHand” project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), have developed a prototype glove designed to help pickers.
As a rule, typical loads in distribution and postal logistics weigh less than the critical threshold of 12 kilograms. Yet it is the high frequency with which workers have to handle such loads that can stretch them to their limits.
Workers in logistics are therefore at an increased risk of chronic and degenerative musculoskeletal conditions. High levels of work-related absenteeism are the result, thus making it difficult to be flexible in the deployment of personnel. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit capable people to work in the field of intralogistics.
The work aids currently available – such as powered pulley systems – have so far failed to prove their worth in everyday operations. Their static nature and nonintuitive operability has hindered their acceptance among workers. At the end of the day, a human employee is much more skillful than almost any lifting aid.
SensHand: intuitive human-machine interaction
A research consortium from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) “SensHand” project has come up with a multimodal, lifting system that combines human coordination with the power and the endurance of a mechanical system. Designed to assist workers with the manual handling of loads, this intuitively operable, power-transmitting sensor glove features pressure, flex and position sensors that enable gesture-based control of the power-assisted lifting system. The fact that it is intuitively operable will ease acceptance among workers.
Ergonomics experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO are working on several aspects of the project. These include the development of a reliable method of transmitting force from the pulley cable to the glove in a way that does not impair the user’s freedom of movement in any way. Functional tests and final product validation were carried out on a specially constructed test stand with a pulley system, an electric drive and control system. The result was a power-assisted glove.
As Dr. Martin Braun, who headed the project on behalf of Fraunhofer IAO, explains: “Our prototype sensor glove not only meets physiological and mechanical specifications, thereby avoiding factors that trigger pain and ensuring the safety of the person using it, but also responds to the integrated sensors.”
In a series of real-life tests, Fraunhofer IAO then demonstrated the sensor glove’s functionality and its ease of use. People who tried it out verify that it is a very suitable solution. “It’s not at the marketable stage yet, but a number of company representatives have told us that they see major potential and benefits in the SensHand system,” Braun says.
The joint research project “Innovative interfaces between humans and technology: development, construction and verification of an intelligent glove for the manual handling of light loads” (also known as “SensHand”) was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), under the project number V4ISS056. Technical supervision was provided by the project coordinator VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik.
J. Schmalz GmbH (coordinator)
ATS Elektronik GmbH
German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF)
Dr. Martin Braun
Human Factors Engineering
Phone +49 711 970-2176
Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
New players, standardization and digitalization for more rail freight transport
16.07.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
So-called bifacial stem cells are responsible for one of the most critical growth processes on Earth – the formation of wood.
Immune cells called macrophages are supposed to serve and protect, but cancer has found ways to put them to sleep. Now researchers at the Abramson Cancer...
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
23.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2019 | Materials Sciences
23.01.2019 | Life Sciences