French company Vinci Airports has given cargo handlers at Japan’s Kansai International Airport powered exoskeletons to ease the strain on their backs when lifting heavy loads.
The roll-out last month follows pilot tests carried out in June and July this year, which delivered "very positive" results, the company said.
Japanese manufacturer Atoun, owned roughly 70:30 by Japanese giants Panasonic and Mitsui, respectively, makes the exoskeletons used at Kansai.
Weighing around 4.5kg, the machine’s motors pull the worker’s body upright during a lift and brake when the worker bends to deposit the load. Its assist force is 10kgf.
See the exoskeleton in action:
Exoskeletons, both powered versions and ones that use counterweights, have been investigated by construction companies to help workers.
At the beginning of this year Hong Kong-headquartered Gammon Construction said it would use them on a $370m, multi-tower residential project in the territory.Â
In the UK, contractor Willmott Dixon has also trialled the use of "bionic vests".Â
Of the Kansai deployment, Vinci said: "This progress illustrates Vinci Airports’ willingness to improve its safety services and working conditions through appropriate innovative investments and the creation of operational synergies throughout the airports of its network."
Image courtesy of Vinci