Exoskeletons: A Promise to Revolutionise Aviation
Since we were children, we have all dreamed about being superhumans or having superpowers such as flying, having super strength, teleportation or travelling back and forward in time. Well, it is now 2020 and this new decade promises to be a great time for technological advances particularly in the fields of strength and endurance, and as expected, the aviation industry is developing research and resources to enhance these new technologies into numerous processes, making jobs safer and easier for employees.
Before we go into aviation matters, one relevant form of new technology is an exoskeleton, also known as power armour or powered suit. This is a wearable machine driven by a combination of electric and hydraulic technologies that allows the user to increase their levels of strength and endurance. Sarcos, the leading development company of exoskeletons has stated that when wearing these devices, the user can lift 100 pounds but it feels as light as 5 pounds.
This context motivated Delta to sign an alliance with Sarcos to apply these wearable machines into its production process. The airline is currently testing this technology for use in the tasks of handling freight and luggage and later on plans to implement this strategy into the maintenance area by using it for moving components or lifting heavy machinery in the hangar.
The results of this programme in Delta have overcome the initial hypothesis. The technology not only increased the levels of strength and endurance for employees, it also led to a diversifying of skills and work teams in the company by allowing a more varied group of people to perform any task without considering their physical capacity.
But exoskeletons are not only equipping employees with superior levels of strength. In a similar way, Lufthansa Technik is testing these technologies in its base in Malta on tasks that are physically strenuous or not ergonomic for the employee. It is well known that repetitive movements or maintaining an uncomfortable body posture over long periods of time have negative effects on an employee’s health. That is why the German company is encouraging a group of creative minds to design and implement models of exoskeletons that reduce the negative impact of different working postures. After a successful trial, these technologies will be introduced in all the facilities of the company aiming to improve the wellbeing of their employees and increase the operational productivity and service offered by the airline.
Wearable exoskeleton implemented by Lufthansa Technik
The initiatives taken by Lufthansa Technik and Delta are just the beginning of a revolution on the way work is performed. There has never been any strategy that has had such a positive impact in operational performance while improving the wellbeing of the employees. This is without hesitation, a sample of the leadership shown by the aviation industry in its commitment to eliminate working gaps and making workplaces safer. We look forward to seeing the implementation and development of exoskeletons alongside the industry and every other industry in the market.