Ergonomics assessment of passive upper-limb exoskeletons in an automotive assembly plant

Over the years, the industry’s interest in using external support devices, such as exoskeletons, is increasing. They are introduced as a new technique for improving the conditions of workers and for reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. An investigation of muscle activity, Jonsson’s (Jonsson, 1982) ergonomic acceptance ranges, and shoulder range of motion was conducted with a sample of 12 workers using an upper extremity exoskeleton in an automotive assembly line. The operators performed continuous cycles of dynamic overhead work consisting of the assembly of the car body at the underside of the car making use of pneumatic screwdrivers. The EMGs (anterior part of deltoid, trapezius, latissimus dorsi and erector spinae) were measured for the muscle activity analysis on the one hand, and for the ergonomics study on the other hand. The latter consisted of an approach based on Jonsson’s work, that establishes acceptance thresholds of cumulative percentage of maximum voluntary contraction of muscle activity (%MVC) in a work cycle. The joint angles motion capture was carried out by measuring the angles of the neck, back, and arms joints. All measurements were performed during experimental sessions with and without an exoskeleton. The key findings show reductions of 34% and 18% of the deltoid and the trapezius muscular activities, respectively, which in turn could lead to a reduction of discomfort and fatigue. The erector spinae and latissimus dorsi muscles were not significantly affected by exoskeleton. The values of muscular activity were also represented over Jonsson’s acceptance areas. Referring to the posture, some differences were found in the range of movement of back, neck, and arms owing to the use of the exoskeleton; however, the differences were smaller than 5% in all cases.

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  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01739771
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 22 2020 3:15PM