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Willmott trials robotic exoskeleton vest on live site

Willmott Dixon has begun trials of a robotic exoskeleton vest designed to support workers’ arms during heavy lifting.

Developed alongside robotics firm Eksobionics, the vests cost approximately £5,650 and are being used at a school development in Cardiff.

The £31m Cardiff West Community High School project was chosen as the testing ground “due to the range of technical activities required to complete the build”, Willmott Dixon said.

The contractor intends to trial the vests at sites across the country and will consider rolling them out as standard, depending on their success.

“This could revolutionise the ability of our people on site to lift heavier objects,” said Willmott Dixon managing director for Wales and the South-west Neal Stephens.

The contractor believes it is the first company in the UK construction industry to trial an exoskeleton vest on a live site.

Construction News toured the Cardiff West Community High School site as part of Open Doors Week earlier this year – check out the full site visit report here.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Is thai bad reporting or a Bloody stupid idea...
    If I understand correctly this will enable lifting of heavier weights (and also lighter weights using worse technique) by supplementing arm strength (only) - there's no mention of torso/back or leg support.
    If reported correctly this therefore seems like a recipe for more back, core, and leg injuries, and a backwards step away from training people how to lift safely, e.g correct posture, technique and assessing an item's weight and only lifting weights that are safely manageble?

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  • Exactly what I was thinking.

    Back, knees etc put under more stress than they're designed for. Encouraging lifting of weights manually that should be handled by proper equipment.

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  • Having looked into these before, my understanding was that the purpose of these vests was to reduce strains and RSI by taking loads away from the shoulders etc. I didn't think that they were for lifting heavier items?

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