Ergonomics has always been a concern for manufacturing companies and exoskeletons (exoskeleton) have been around for far longer than we see or understand, as far back as 1890 an engineer was granted patent for a facilitated movement device and is considered to be the first serious attempt at an exoskeleton device, from 1890 to 1930 lumbar support exoskeletons had A dozen patents, very similar to the modern equivalent, people needed this relief and for over 120 years engineers have been inventing this type of product and to this day we are still trying to solve these ergonomic problems that people are experiencing today. Today we have modern design and manufacturing and we have put these products into use to help people solve their design problems. Exoskeletons are part of the ergonomics programme and they share the same goals; they aim to prevent injuries and waste time, improve people's quality of life, retain valuable employees, keep them in the workplace and improve the quality of work and performance.
Founded in 1984, Great Wall Motor is a Chinese automobile brand headquartered in Baoding, Hebei Province, China, which mainly produces SUVs, cars, pick-up trucks and new energy vehicles. It is the first private vehicle manufacturer listed on the Hong Kong H-share market, the largest SUV and pickup truck manufacturer in China and a multinational company. Major car brands include: Haval, WEY, Ola, Tank, Great Wall Pickup, etc. In many car manufacturers including Great Wall Motor and we obtained Oriental Group yesterday, ergonomics has a high degree of importance.
In February 2022, Great Wall Motor Company took the initiative to approach Zhou'ou Industry, hoping to solve the problem of the heavy load of technicians in the assembly workshop employees carrying out assembly and chassis work as well as the handling and installation of small and medium-sized equipment parts by Zhou'ou's exoskeleton solution, relieving the intensity of technicians' manual work and protecting the health of technicians' upper limbs, waist and legs. Compared to Eastern Auto's main pain points focused on wiring harness and chassis work conditions, Great Wall Auto's main staff pain points are on small and medium-sized parts handling and assembly.
After a detailed assessment of the needs of the workshop staff at Great Wall Motor Company, we decided that the Noonee exoskeleton seat and the Skelex upper limb assisted exoskeleton, as well as the SuitX lumbar exoskeleton and the upper limb assisted exoskeleton from our strategic partner Aoshachi, would be suitable for the above mentioned working conditions. Therefore, at the invitation of Great Wall Motor Company, we took our equipment into their assembly hall.
1. Employees of Great Wall Motors wear the SuitX lumbar exoskeleton, which we represent, for the assembly line installation, tightening and post-installation inspection of engines and gearboxes.
According to the technician, wearing our SuitX exoskeleton made it easy to carry and install small and medium-sized engine components. Due to the number and complexity of the engine components, the technician was able to wear the device for long periods of time for several minutes without any significant increase in back pressure, which was much easier than without the exoskeleton. The switch between squatting and semi-squatting is also much more comfortable. Due to the ergonomic design of the device, there is very little restriction on the technician's movement for inspection and fastening work.
2. Employees of Great Wall Motors wear the Noonee exoskeleton seats we represent to carry out relevant installation and inspection of core components such as engines and transmission components.
As the engine and transmission components are involved in the overall performance and safety of the vehicle, Great Wall Motors' technicians often perform installations in a standing position for long and repeated checks. Standing for long periods of time without wearing our exoskeleton seats can easily lead to knee and thigh and whole body fatigue. With our Noonee exoskeleton seats, employees can switch between standing and semi-crouching positions at any time, and because the seats are made of carbon fibre, the technicians can remain in a stable sitting position and do not tend to build up fatigue even after long hours of work. And after completing part of the job, they can switch to a standing or upright walking position at any time, making it easy to pick up and drop off the relevant tools.
3. Employees of Great Wall Motors wear the Skelex upper limb-assisted exoskeleton, which we represent, to carry, install, fasten and inspect small chassis components.
Chassis work requires employees to lift relevant tools in the chassis to install and check chassis fasteners, wiring harnesses and other accessories, in addition to carrying a certain weight of relevant small parts for installation. According to feedback from Great Wall Motor Company employees, although the weight of the tools and parts is small, prolonged lifting and carrying back and forth for long periods of time can easily cause arm aches and pains, and prolonged head lifting can also cause neck pain. When employees wear our Skelex upper limb assisted exoskeleton, the device gives a certain amount of support to the upper limb when carrying and lifting small parts, which effectively shares the weight of the parts being carried and saves the upper limb's effort. According to feedback from users, Skelex's lightweight materials and design means that wearing the device puts very little additional strain on the upper limbs.
4. The staff of Great Wall Motor also tried on the upper limb exoskeleton equipment of Aosha Intelligence, a strategic partner of Zhou-European Industry. Compared to SKelex's upper limb exoskeleton equipment, Aosha's upper limb exoskeleton equipment has a more pronounced upper limb assist and is suitable for carrying medium to large car assemblies. However, the Skelex has the advantage of a simpler overall design and less wearable load, so there are advantages and disadvantages compared to the Aosha Smart device.
Great Wall Motor Company is very satisfied with the suitability of our exoskeleton equipment for the above mentioned working conditions after the staff test samples and communication with our technicians, and said that they will cooperate with us for the positive test soon. We would also like to thank all the leaders and technicians of Great Wall Motor Company for their trust and support.
Automotive manufacturers today are already equipped with highly automated production lines, but robots cannot completely replace manual labour, and some complex operations still require manual labour to complete. Major OEMs are beginning to attach importance to ergonomics and have started to use exoskeleton equipment to solve the ergonomic problems they encounter. In foreign countries, exoskeleton equipment has been widely recognised and used, and in our own country, in the automotive manufacturing industry, exoskeleton equipment is becoming more and more popular. In addition to Dongfeng Motor in this article, the Volvo Taizhou Plant, Volvo Sichuan Plant, FAW-Volkswagen Changchun Plant, MG Plant, FAW Jiefang Plant, Yutong Bus, Mercedes-Benz Beijing Plant, SAIC Nanjing Plant, FAW Jiefang Nanjing Plant, FAW Jiefang Qingdao Plant and Toyota Sichuan Plant have started to use our exoskeleton equipment.
Finally, with the permission of the technical staff of Great Wall Motor Company, we present a video of them wearing the Skelex exoskeleton we represent for the handling and installation of small and medium-sized parts. It is also a reference for other customers with related needs. The video shows how much easier and more efficient it is for the technicians to handle and install small and medium sized parts while wearing our equipment.