Image: German Bionic

Workplace fatigue increases the risk of injury and this could have dire implications depending on the occupational setting. A 2018 National Safety Council survey found nearly seven-in-10 US employees are fatigued on the job. However, only about three-quarters (72%) of respondents believed workplace fatigue to be a safety concern.

In recent years, a number of companies have developed exoskeletons to assist employees in manufacturing industrial settings during physically intensive tasks. These robotics-enabled ergonomic devices can decrease employee fatigue and increase productivity while reducing the risk of injury at work.

On Monday, robotic exoskeleton manufacturer, German Bionic, announced that it had received $20 million in financing from a number of investors including Samsung Catalyst Fund, Benhamou Global, and Storm Ventures, IT Farm, and MIG AG. The company said that the investments will help “ramp up” development of its cloud robotics platform.

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“With our groundbreaking robotic technology that combines human work with the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we literally strengthen the shop floor workers’ backs in an immediate and sustainable way. Measurable data underscores that this ultimately increases productivity and the efficiency of the work done,” said Armin G. Schmidt, CEO of German Bionic, in a press release. “The market for smart human-machine systems is huge and we are now perfectly positioned to take a major share and substantially improve numerous working lives.”

Industrial exoskeletons and smart factories

German Bionic’s robotic exoskeleton is formally known as Cray X and the company touts the “power suit” as “the world’s only fully connected exoskeleton for industrial use.” The suit features a lightweight carbon fiber frame and two servo motors and is able to provide “up to 30kg relief per lifting movement,” per German Bionic. The manufacturer estimates that the Cray X is able to actively support “the lifting of heavy loads” for up to 8 hours on a single charge of the exchangeable battery pack.

SEE: 5 Internet of Things (IoT) innovations (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The 4th Generation Cray X can be connected to German Bionic’s IO cloud robotics platform and the company also offers a smart visor and this can be integrated with the power suit and IoT suite for added smart factory functionality. The Cray Visor features a screen to display information and instructions for hands-free operations. On the company website, German Bionic also notes that the visor can also “protect wearers from airborne health risks;” a notable capability amid an ongoing modern plague.

Image: German Bionic

The website includes testimonial photos detailing various Cray X workplace use-cases across industries including aviation, manufacturing, automotive, and more. The company’s robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) model monthly plans start at €699 to usd or approximately $849.

“Previously, efficiency gains and health promotion in manual labor were often at odds with one another. German Bionic managed to not only break through this paradigm, but also to make manual labor a part of the digital transformation and elegantly integrate it into the smart factory,” said Michael Motschmann, managing partner with MIG AG, in a press release.