Learn how one naval shipyard uses zeroG technology for grinding to increase productivity while reducing injuries. Funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) through ManTech and in partnership with Ingalls and the Naval Metalworking Center (NMC), the use of Equipois zeroG technology resulted in a 30% work output improvement and still less fatigue at […]Read more
Reports are out this week the U.S. Navy is testing Lockheed Martin Industrial Exoskeletons. Using Equipois zeroG® arm technology, Lockheed Martin is developing next-generation technologies which allows operators to effortlessly hold objects weighing over 35 lbs., reducing muscle fatigue and risk of injury, while at the same time increasing productivity. Fortis ExoskeletonRead more
Riveting is a very common operation in aerospace manufacturing. Riveters can be extremely heavy — up to 30 lbs. — and must often be used overhead or with arms outstretched. This means that workers get fatigued after only a few minutes, and after months or years they tend to develop shoulder problems. Plus only […]Read more
Sanding overhead is an extremely demanding task. Every manufacturing and maintenance operation that sands the underside of surfaces faces problems — fatigue that can create major bottlenecks, and often frequent shoulder injuries. We were fortunate enough to work with one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers and one of the world’s top airlines to develop […]Read more
Orbital drills from Novator utilize a new technology for drilling in aerospace manufacturing. They can drill through advanced materials such as carbon fiber and titanium in a single step, thereby saving time and reducing damage. The technology has been adopted by the world’s top aerospace manufacturers.
Equipois has partnered with Novator to offer a zeroG solution that integrates with its Orbital drills. The drills are “zeroG ready” with a dedicated mounting point that ensures maximum freedom of motion. With zeroG, Novator drills (which can weigh up to 50 lbs.) can be maneuvered as if weightless, thereby greatly reducing operator fatigue.
When fatigue is reduced, workers can work for longer periods without getting tired, without wearing down their bodies and without making costly mistakes. zeroG arms typically decrease task time by 30-60% and reduce injuries to zero, while improving accuracy. A case study of fixture drilling in aerospace showed a return on investment of 366%, with a payback of less than four months. (You can also calculate your own ROI from a zeroG solution here.) The productivity and quality gains from Novator Orbital drills are thus magnified by the productivity, quality and safety advantages of zeroG technology.
Novator and Equipois have deployed systems to support some of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft. The result was to enable drilling of advanced materials quickly, safely, and without material damage.
Equipois will be exhibiting at the Applied Ergonomics Conference on March 24-26, 2014 at the Hilton Orlando in Orlando, Florida.
Come visit us — catch up with old Equipois friends, meet the new team, and see a new mobile version of our technology.
We will be at booth 400 just inside the entrance. We hope to see you there!
Equipois is very happy to welcome two new partners to its worldwide distribution network.
Azairis, located in Saint-Nazaire in western France, is a provider of innovative industrial solutions, with a focus on workstations and tools. It serves the aerospace, automotive, luxury manufacturing, and other industries. You can read the announcement on Azairis on our Announcements page.
Tel.: 09 83 25 93 26
Sigma Cranes joins the Equipois team to serve the automotive and general manufacturing industries in Australia. They provide materials handling systems and other solutions to a wide range of industries in South Australia and throughout the country.
Tel.: 0400 380 041
In Australia, we also have a strong partner that services the foundry, metal fabrication, mining and related industries, Cast Metal Services (“CMS”). CMS can be reached at:
Tel.: +0400 880 191
Game manufacturer Hasbro has been working with students studying physical therapy at the American International College in Springfield, Mass. to see if X-Ar can help assemblers there. You can see a news segment on the project above, done early on before results were available.
This month TodayInPT.com, a online resource related to physical therapy run by Gannett, discussed some of the results:
During the pilot, [Professor Carley of America International College] said the workers adapted well and reported more endurance and fewer injuries. The arms being used in the project are x-Ar made by Equipois, and are lightweight with an adjustable spring, he said.
Carley thinks exoskeletal arms will be very useful in the future because they have the potential to be used in many different settings or fields other than manufacturing. “If doctors are doing long surgeries, their arms are going to get tired,” he said. “Also, as the population ages, the use of exoskeletal arms could actually help people function.”
The same pilot will be the subject of a workshop by Hasbro at this summer’s conference for the Volunteer Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA):
This workshop shares a collaborative ergonomics study conducted by the Hasbro East Longmeadow VPP Star site in conjunction with mechanical arm support manufacturer Equipois and students of the American International College’s Doctoral Physical Therapy program to evaluate a cutting-edge, high-tech mechanical arm assist for reducing cumulative trauma injury potential, increasing productivity and decreasing costs in the workplace.
Assistive devices that improve safety and productivity are definitely the future…these sorts of studies are laying the groundwork and helping us improve our solutions. Kudos!
The Equipois team was delighted to hear that our inventor, Garrett Brown, will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May. The Inventors Hall of Fame was founded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and honors inventors whose work has had “a major impact on society, the public welfare, and the progress of science and the useful arts.”
Among other inventions, Garrett was inducted for the Steadicam® camera stabilization system — the starting point for Equipois’s zeroG® technology. If you own or have even tried a zeroG arm, you know that it performs a minor mechanical miracle by allowing payloads to “float” as if being maneuvered in space. It was Garrett’s vision and nearly 30 years of continuous invention that produced this technology. Along with our talented in-house team at zeroG Labs, Garrett has also been instrumental in helping Equipois create its full family of products, including two different zeroG arms, our gimbal systems, and the X-Ar exoskeletal arm support. Garrett is also working with our inventing team on some exciting new product offerings, including mobile versions of our solutions, a version that will “pick and place” parts and materials, and even products to help disabled persons improve their quality of life.
Garrett has a fascinating background that includes a stint as a folksinger, the co-creator of a hugely successful series of ad-lib radio commercials for Molson and American Express, and Steadicam operator for some of the greatest feature films of all time. His inventions include not only the Steadicam and Equipois products, but a long list of other technologies have changed the way movies, sporting events, and home videos are created and enjoyed. You can learn about Garrett’s bio and inventions here.
It also turns out that Garrett is a terrific, kind, generous and thoughtful person who has been a great friend and partner to Equipois and its team members. Our heartfelt congratulations to Garrett for an honor that is well deserved.
The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has showcased its exoskeleton project for shipyards as one of its process improvement initiatives to reduce waste and improve efficiency. You can read the NAVSEA release about the project, called “Mechanical Assist Arms and Human Augmentation for Improved Shipyard Operations,” here. (A photo of the presentation, showing a zeroG arm holding a heavy grinder, was also featured on the NAVSEA homepage.)
NAVSEA described the initiative as follows:
Developed by industry, stewarded by NAVSEA and Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock engineers, and tested at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, a modern-day “iron man” came together to minimize the time and effort required for labor-intensive maintenance such as preservation work on a ship’s hull. The effort is formally known as the Mechanical Assist Arms and Human Augmentation for Improved Shipyard Industrial Operations. Also referred to as exoskeletons, the mechanical support systems augment a technician’s ability to carry and operate heavy mechanical tools.
We are honored to be the industry partner for zeroG arms for the human augmentation system. You can about an earlier demonstration at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard here.
You may have noticed us using the term “Killer Apps” in other posts. For us the term (borrowed from the software industry) refers to the applications where an assistive device like zeroG is so compelling that it is insane for anyone to work at that activity without one. Typically injuries drop from frequent to zero and productivity rises significantly, such that the ROI is over 200% (and as high as 600%) per year. Each Killer App has been validated with a world-class customer (typically one of the top companies in the world in aerospace, defense, automotive, heavy machinery, shipbuilding, or metal fabrication), and is supported by case studies and preconfigured solutions.
Some of our most popular Killer Apps include:
- Riveting for aerospace. Large squeeze riveters typically weigh 20-30 lbs. Only certain workers have the build even to lift the tools, and they can only do so for minutes at a time before getting tired. After years of doing so, they are bound to have chronic shoulder or back problems, if not an injury requiring surgery. With zeroG, the most skilled can do the job (and not just the largest), they will not be hobbled by fatigue, and they won’t get hurt. With an ROI of over 400%, it is a no brainer…and the subject of its own blog post.
- Grinding for any metal fabrication or finishing. We talk a lot about grinding. We blog about it; we write white papers about it; and well up with pride when customers like the U.S. Navy issue press releases about how great our solution is for it. We do all that because grinding is an incredibly tough job, with astronomical injury rates and horrible efficiency, and zeroG instantly makes it faster and safer (along with some unexpected benefits, like reducing dropped tools that damage product and cut through cords or injure people). If workers in your organization use grinders heavier than 6 or 7 lbs., you owe it to them, and to your employer, to give an assistive device a try.
- Overhead sanding. Working with any tool overhead for long periods is an ergonomic stressor. Overhead sanding (or grinding or buffing, for that matter) is particularly bad. We worked closely with several of our aerospace customers to develop a zeroG solution that would greatly reduce fatigue while preserving the essential freedom of motion needed to do the job well. The end result is definitely a killer app — one customer reported that it reduced their sanding costs by nearly 70% …other customers have seen similar results, and the solution was the subject of a presentation at the Applied Ergonomics Conference.
- Drilling. In aerospace, construction and farm equipment, and similar manufacturing, large drills weighing from 15-30 lbs. or more are often used to bore through heavy castings or strong materials. Examples include Quakenbush drills and orbital drills like those made by Novator. With zeroG to float these drills, customers experience ROI’s in excess of 300%.
These are a few choice examples — there are other Killer Apps, some of which as listed here. What they all have in common is that assistive devices like zeroG offer simply a better way to do the job, with much less fatigue, greater efficiency and fewer (or zero) injuries. We fervently believe that, in time, everyone doing these tasks will be assisted with a technology like ours.
If your company has “Killer App” operations, it is worth learning about the new best practices. Contact us with questions.
How the Equipois zeroG mechanical arm “lifts” workplace stress and fatigue — with help from SolidWorks
Our friends at SolidWorks, the premier CAD software provider for small and medium businesses, has published at great article and case study on how Equipois designs zeroG and X-Ar technologies to help top manufacturers reduce workplace injuries
and increase productivity. We utilize Solidworks for in-house product design, applications engineering, marketing support, and technical communication with customers.
It is nice to have a world-class supplier learn enough about our operations to develop their own case study. Our appreciation.
Our Applications Engineering group has created a new “Definitive Guide to zeroG.” It explains what zeroG does, its (very strong) value proposition, the system architecture, and where best to use it…all in a few slides. We’d definitely recommend it for customers, potential customers and partners who would like a quick reference on zeroG.
We also recently rolled out an online tool called “Build Your zeroG System” that shows the components of a zeroG solution, with renderings and descriptions. You can find it here. Both tools show our preconfigured solutions for grinding, drilling, riveting, and fastening.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions on these materials, or if you have any suggestions on any additional information that would be helpful.
Earlier this year we launched an ROI calculator for our zeroG products. We developed it in collaboration with VisualizeROI, the leading provider of such online ROI applications. Response was very positive, and quite a few folks asked if we could offer a similar tool that could be used with any ergonomic measures.
We listened, and earlier this month we introduced a free Ergonomic ROI Visualizer that anyone can use to calculate return on investment for an ergonomic intervention. It allows you to calculate return on investment, savings and payback based on injury reduction, productivity gains and quality improvements; you can create conservative, moderate and optimistic scenarios, and export the results to pdf, Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It takes your cycle time, error rate, and other operational variables into account, hoping making it sophisticated without being overly complicated. You can also come back to your work by bookmarking the visualizer page (the one with the variables and graphs, not the starting page).
Our goal is to offer the safety and ergonomics community a helpful tool that can be used whenever it is valuable to quantify and illustrate return on investment…which in our experience is very often. Please use it and enjoy, and share any feedback you have. Incidentally, you will see that even incremental gains in productivity drive very compelling ROI numbers.
You can find the free Ergonomics ROI Visualizer at www.ergonomicsroi.com.