As a result of changes in society and, in particular, demographic change, handicraft enterprises are facing a wide range of challenges.
Healthy work is becoming a challenge, especially for older employees in physically demanding working conditions. However, ensuring the sustainability of the work and employment ability of their skilled workers is also becoming increasingly important for companies. Physical demands include, above all, working in forced postures, lifting and carrying heavy loads, and – literally handicraft - working with one's hands.
The generation for whom smartphones and the Internet determine large parts of their everyday lives expects to find modern digital technologies in their everyday work and training. At the same time, the willingness to take on physically demanding work is declining - the profession of craftsman in its current form is simply not "in".
Only with good employee qualifications are craft enterprises able to create a high-quality service. It is not standardized mass production as in industry, for example, but the production of customized solutions and individual services that characterizes large parts of the handicraft profession. Meanwhile, the average age of existing employees - also due to the increase in the retirement age - is steadily rising. The hkk absenteeism report shows a sickness rate of 4.4% in the handicraft profession of construction industry for 2019.
Within the scope of this research project, the project partners aim to sustainably investigate the reduction of physical strain by means of exoskeletons and to enable the connection of humans and technology without replacing humans. The result should therefore be applicable to almost all physically demanding manual occupations and thus be scalable. This applies in particular to the sensor-controlled analysis of movement data, which can be used to proactively identify and avoid incorrect postures and stressful human movements. In addition to a possible reduction of diseases and strains on the musculoskeletal system, the psychological and social aspects for acceptance and wearing comfort are also to be recorded and evaluated for future applications and improved if necessary. In particular, the question is whether the use of such systems facilitates the work of employees and which conditions of use are important from the employee's point of view. Criteria for this are to be developed in a T0 and T1 survey.
Beyond the usability and acceptance of the exoskeletons, the operational applicability is of great concern. A digital planning tool should support the companies to use the existing exoskeleton systems easily and in a well-founded way in concepts of occupational health management. For this purpose, several exoskeleton systems are recorded in their support capacities in order to provide a broader basis for this tool.
Meanwhile, the individual craft enterprises alone are not able to solve these challenges individually - the complexity of the topic, the dependence on technologies, the lack of know-how, as well as costs / investment requirements compete with full capacity utilization of the enterprises. This is threatening the existence of the German skilled trades. This research project aims to address this problem.
Cray-X from German Bionic Systems and other exoskeleton systems (Ottobock, Laevo, Tilta, Comau, etc.).
Sensor-equipped suit for measuring motion sequences
Multiple networking of everyday objects via 60GHz label