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Partly because of their size and cost, exoskeletons and other assistive technologies are continuing to expand from therapeutic to industrial use. Comau today announced the MATE-XT, a new version of its Muscular Aiding Tech Exoskeleton that it said “fully accommodates the specific needs of workers in demanding industrial, non-industrial, and open-air environments.”
Turin, Italy-based Comau is a member of the FCA Group and provides industrial automation for vehicle manufacturing including collaborative robots and autonomous logistics systems. The company has more than 45 years of experience and also offers project management, consulting, and training services for Industry 4.0. Comau has a network of seven innovation centers, five digital hubs, and eight manufacturing plants, and it employs more than 9,000 people in 14 countries.
MATE-XT has a slim design
Featuring a slim, lightweight carbon fiber structure and an intuitive regulation system, the exoskeleton‘s water, dust, ultraviolet light- and temperature-resistant design can be quickly adjusted to fit virtually any body frame, claimed Comau. MATE-XT is also breathable, thanks to an enhanced high-performance fabric construction intended for outdoor activities, according to the company.
Comau added that the wearable device replicates the user’s physiological shoulder movements to provide optimal upper body support without batteries, motors, or other failure-prone devices. It also offers eight different levels of assistance that can be quickly set or changed by the worker without interrupting the task at hand.
“We have reduced the weight and bulk of MATE-XT while increasing its performance to better meet the needs of the extended exoskeleton market,” stated Pietro Ottavis, chief technology officer of Comau. “Furthermore, we are proud to have developed this new exoskeleton in close collaboration with our partners, IUVO and Össur, and the many workers who use it to execute their tasks with less fatigue.”
Certification and ROI
MATE-XT is the only commercially-available exoskeleton with Ergonomic Assessment Work-Sheet (EAWS) certification, which Comau said attests to its ability to reduce biomechanical loads during strenuous tasks. In addition, it is intended to improve work quality and and worker health in a consistent, efficient, and highly ergonomic manner. This enables customers to calculate their return on investment (ROI) with measurable ergonomic performance, Comau said.
Based on studies conducted at customers’ sites using the EAWS worksheet, Comau estimated that the wearable exoskeleton could help workers increase accuracy during overhead tasks by 27% and execution speed by 10%. It can also reduce cycle times by at least 5%, the company sid.
From an operational standpoint, MATE-XT can facilitate increased precision, quality, and performance, said Comau. The company said it can reduce shoulder muscle activity by 30% and diminish the effort felt by workers, with more than 50% of workers reporting beneficial upgrades in job quality.
“MATE-XT is an extension of our commitment to productivity and well-being in industrial, non-industrial and outdoor settings, which is a fundamental pillar of our ‘HUMANufacturing’ approach,” Ottavis said. “We believe the global market for exoskeletons shows a five-year CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of up to 40%, where the industrial sector will represent close to half of this.”