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Volkswagen testing exoskeletons in production at Bratislava plant

The Volkswagen brand is testing the use of exoskeletons in production at its Bratislava plant—its first use of the technology. As background, the Volkswagen brand is modernizing its production processes with a project focusing on the future of work. This includes physical and behavioral ergonomic support systems which are firmly anchored in corporate strategy in connection with the topic of demographics and ergonomics.

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Ergonomically unfavorable workplaces are being continually reduced. Where the ergonomics of an operation cannot be improved, devices such as exoskeletons can provide support for production workers. These external supporting structures, which are worn somewhat like a rucksack, are currently being tested by Volkswagen in series production at Bratislava. 30 workers are benefiting from a considerable reduction in physical effort in their assembly work.

The feedback from the test workers shows that systems such as the exoskeleton significantly reduce physical effort. We want to design the production work of the future in such a way that all employees can contribute to added value over their entire working lives at the same time as maintaining the best possible health levels.

—Margarida Pereira, project manager in the field of demographics and ergonomics

Volkswagen has been carrying out research work in this area since 2012 and is pushing ahead with the targeted development of ergonomic strategy with exoskeletons. The first result is the Paexo support system for static overhead working. The long-standing successful cooperation between Volkswagen and Ottobock is opening up new perspectives for workplace design in connection with Industry 4.0.

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