A helping (Sens)Hand

Prototype designed in the "SensHand" project Photo: Ludmilla Parsyak, © denis_smirnov – stock.adobe.com/Fraunhofer IAO

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.

SensHand
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.

Project partners
J. Schmalz GmbH (coordinator)
Alfa-Rotec GmbH
ATS Elektronik GmbH
German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF)
Fraunhofer IAO

Contact
Dr. Martin Braun
Human Factors Engineering
Fraunhofer IAO
Nobelstraße 12
70569 Stuttgart
Phone +49 711 970-2176
martin.braun@iao.fraunhofer.de

Media Contact

Juliane Segedi Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All latest news from the category: Transportation and Logistics

This field deals with all spatial and time-related activities involved in bridging the gap between goods and people, including their restructuring. This begins with the supplier and follows each stage of the operational value chain to product delivery and concludes with product disposal and recycling.

innovations-report provides informative reports and articles on such topics as traffic telematics, toll collection, traffic management systems, route planning, high-speed rail (Transrapid), traffic infrastructures, air safety, transport technologies, transport logistics, production logistics and mobility.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Switching on a superfluid

Exotic phase transitions unlock pathways to future, superfluid-based technologies. We can learn a lot by studying microscopic and macroscopic changes in a material as it crosses from one phase to…

Researchers use breakthrough method to answer key question about electron states

Scientists are working hard to engineer the properties of nanostructures, such as atoms and molecules, to realize efficient logic devices that can operate at the fundamental scale of matter –…

Scientists develop artificial intelligence method to predict anti-cancer immunity

Machine learning algorithms are shedding light on neoantigen T cell-receptor pairs. Researchers and data scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center have developed an artificial intelligence…

Partners & Sponsors