Industrial exoskeletons tested at Lebedinsky GOK
4 December 2020
Lebedinsky GOK (part of Metalloinvest) has tested industrial exoskeletons developed by the South-West State University in Kursk. The project is being implemented jointly with specialists from the Metalloinvest Innovation Laboratory.
The industrial exoskeletons serve to facilitate and simplify heavy physical activity. They increase the strength of human muscles and expand the range of movements with the outer frame and drive parts of the exoskeleton, which results in a manifold increase in the efficiency of work performed.
The technical novelty was tested in real production conditions on equipment undergoing repairs at the pelletising unit. On a daily basis, specialists from the repair services load 24 rollers onto blast furnace trolleys, with each roller weighing between 47 and 58 kilograms. Almost 100 trolleys are serviced per month, and the total weight of the manually moved cargo reaches 120 tonnes. The exoskeleton, which takes on 90% of the weight lifted, will make it possible to significantly ease work and reduce the likelihood of physical trauma on the spine and legs.
Two exoskeleton models were engaged in the tests. The soft exoskeleton ExoHeaver LOWEBACKER helps move loads weighing up to 30 kg and can be used for lifting, storage and transport work. The heavier, more complex ExoHeaver Active Electric is designed to handle loads of up to 60 kg. The exoskeleton has its own power supply system and is controlled by an electromechanical module.
Dmitry Kazantsev, Equipment Director of Lebedinsky GOK, commented: "The pilot project for testing the exoskeletons has been implemented as part of the MRO transformation programme in the area of technical development and engineering. This is a leading technology in terms of mechanising heavy physical labour, reducing of the load on the musculoskeletal system and protecting employees from potential blows and falls. We will continue testing the exoskeletons and each model will be evaluated for its ergonomics, ease of use and safety.”
In 2020, Metalloinvest launched a large-scale programme to transform the maintenance and repairs activities at its enterprises. Organised over three years, the implementation will include a deep reorganisation of the MRO function and changes to the process planning culture and to the organisation and performance of the maintenance and repair of technological equipment with a focus on reliability. Additionally, the programme will include measures to ensure the stable and efficient condition of the enterprises’ key assets, improve employee working methods, develop competencies and improve the incentive system for maintenance personnel, as well as to build a management system that meets modern business requirements.
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