EXSKALLERATE holds virtual kick-off meeting amid COVID-19 crisis

21 April 2020 - Published by Amy McCready

The EXSKALLERATE consortium hosted a virtual partner meeting at the beginning of April to mark the official launch of the project. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Europe, the partners met virtually to discuss the project's imminent and future activities. The European project, co-funded by the Interreg North Sea Region Programme (2014-2020) aims to accelerate the adoption of exoskeletons into construction and industrial manufacturing SMEs across Europe’s North Sea Region. 

Over the next three years the consortium, involving 12 partners from 6 different countries, will enhance SME competitiveness and occupational health by transforming the North Sea Region into a leading exoskeleton ecosystem.

As many as 44 million workers in the European Union (EU) are affected by workplace-related musculoskeletal disorders, representing a total annual cost to industry of more than $300 billion. Exoskeletons have the capacity to decrease the number of musculoskeletal injuries and increase quality of life at work, thereby reducing costs for a company in the long run.

Manufacturing and construction workers, in particular, undertake physically strenuous activities which increase their risk of health problems, disability and sick leave. This leads to lower job attractiveness and job candidate scarcity, resulting in unfilled job openings that slow growth and competitiveness. This is particularly true for many North Sea Region SMEs, who are unaware of available solutions via exoskeleton adoption as solution developers tend to target large corporates.

EXSKALLERATE aims to tackle these issues by focusing on boosting SME adoption of exoskeletons in the construction and industrial manufacturing industries, where heavy physical work leads to severe health issues. According to research conducted by the EXSKALLERATE partners, exoskeleton use could alleviate 10-40% of muscle peak loads for passive exoskeletons, and up to 80% for active.

“People have to work for longer periods in our ageing society. We strive to help people in the manufacturing and building industries to do that in a healthy and happy way by accelerating the uptake of exoskeletons. Once established in these industries, we expect that other industries, such as logistics and agriculture, will follow rapidly” says Anton Duisterwinkel, coordinator of EXSKALLERATE at InnovationQuarter.

The consortium of business support organisations, clusters, and research institutes from six European countries, will co-design field labs according to the main SME challenges identified, where next-generation exoskeletons integrate improvements. The partners will also host several informative workshops for SMEs where exoskeleton experts will present tools to support SME decision making in exoskeleton adoption, a key challenge limiting current adoption. 

The team welcomes all construction and industrial manufacturing SMEs within the North Sea Region to get involved and reap the benefits of exoskeletons.

 

For more information, contact the team.