“Power dressing” takes on a new meaning as SPIE Nederland pilots an exoskeleton suit. Designed to increase stamina and facilitate overhead work, this innovation helps prevent or overcome injury. Hans Weber evaluated this innovative protection.
After 20 years as an installation engineer, Hans knows his job inside out – and still enjoys the action. “I install water, air and cooling systems, which means I’m always working at height and busy with my body.” But just months ago, switching jobs internally seemed the only option. “I have a neck injury from when I was a welder. If I work for weeks above the shoulders, my muscles get stuck, and I experience a lot of pain.”
So, when the Human Resources department suggested trying an exoskeleton, Hans jumped at the chance. “I am incredibly happy I can do my job. It feels like someone is lifting my shoulders up and taking the weight off, which makes drilling and overhead tasks less intense.” Worn when needed (every day on some projects), the exoskeleton is “lightweight and makes work lighter so I can do it longer.”
Would he recommend the technology to colleagues? “Yes! Lots of people have been curious. SPIE’s safety standards are high, and the exoskeleton could prevent problems. I have a feeling we will see more of it.”
Exoskeleton - a pilot programme
Albert Vullers saw the exoskeleton at an event and was impressed: “This kind of innovation can help employees stay healthy longer while also putting SPIE on the map as an innovative employer.” With funding from ArboTechniek, a trade union alliance, he organised a successful pilot study involving nine mechanics from SPIE Nederland’s Fire Protection & Security business unit. A second pilot, in healthcare, also confirmed the benefits. Now his goal is to help other units evaluate the exoskeleton and purchase their own.
Did you know?
• Ten employees have evaluated the tool.
• SPIE Nederland has acquired two exoskeletons, one thanks to the funding of the health insurer.