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Willmott Dixon trials ‘bionic’ vest

4 October 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

Willmott Dixon is trialling a robotic vest for construction workers in what it claims is an industry first.

The company is partnering with robotics company Eksobionics, which has devised an upper body exoskeleton vest – called the Eksovest - that supports the arms during heavy lifting.

Funded by Eureka, Willmott Dixon’s central research and development fund, the vest, which costs approximately £5,650, is being used on the Cardiff West Community High School site.

The company plans to demonstrate the Eksovest at other sites across the country before introducing it as standard, depending on how the trials perform.

The Eksovest in action

The £31m Cardiff West Community High School, which will provide a new school for 1,200 secondary students including more than 300 sixth-formers, was chosen to trial the newly developed technology due to the range of technical activities required to complete the build.

Neal Stephens, managing director for Willmott Dixon Wales and South West, said: “Innovation is in our DNA and this could revolutionise the ability of our people on site to lift heavier objects. The wellbeing of our people and supply chain is always our number one priority and the more we can use technology to support this, the better.

“The Eksovest technology should lead to teams on site feeling less exerted, meaning improved wellbeing and productivity. This investment also demonstrates the development of our new Eureka fund in supporting technology and innovation that will drive change in our construction industry into the 21st century.”

Comments

I recall these type of vests being presented at the VINCI Innovation Awards in Paris in 2015. They are not just for lifting heavy loads.
VINCI Construction in France were using them for tasks where the operative had to sustain long periods of operating tools above one's head, such as sanding a ceiling when undertaking renovation works. They received excellent feedback from the users regarding reduction of musculoskeletal issues and general fatigue.
Further research and development of these vests is to be commended.

Alan Blunden FCIOB, 4 October 2018

Certainly beats people having to give their jobs to robots

Sheila, 7 October 2018

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