ASTM International Exo Technology Center of Excellence Exoskeletons: Considerations when deciding to use them as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Summary: On Thursday, November 19th, ASTM International Exo Technology Center of Excellence hosted the Exoskeletons: Considerations when deciding to use them as PPE PanelDiscussion.
The Program agenda included a welcome and overview of the ET CoE by Bill Billotte (ET 
CoE Director), along with on overview of ASTM International by Pat Picariello (Director, Developmental Operations).

QUESTION 1 : Considering the so called ergonomic pitfall (ergonomics improvements eaten by increase productivity), do you see it as likely that exoskeleton within the next 5 years will be used as a tool not only to sustained productivity but rather to increase the productivity?
ANSWER: Broadly, productivity is about the efficiency of converting the input to outputs. There are many factors that impact productivity. Some of the key ones are people, technology, and the
work environment. Exoskeletons have the potential to impact all three of these factors by increasing the efficiency of each. In respect to the workers, exoskeletons may reduce fatigue resulting in higher quality performance with fewer errors, reduce loss of work hours from injury prevention, and provide faster return to work times. In the technology area, exoskeletons may provide new interfaces to processes and materials that allow greater leverage and interaction by the worker. In the work environment area, an exoskeleton may improve the conditions, such as changing the interface to the work pieces or reducing the strain of awkward postures for workers, thus enabling higher quality, better morale, and thus few errors.

QUESTION 2 : Do you have experience in industry with active exoskeletons or do you mainly focus on passive exoskeletons? Do anyone see realistic evidence that active exsoskeleton will be used within the coming 10 years?
ANSWER: Active or powered exoskeletons are being used extensively in the medical and rehabilitation area where they are used for patients who have had spinal cord injuries or strokes. There are also active exoskeletons available for industrial workers.4

QUESTION 3 : Exoskeleton use and incentive thoughts - control of costs and litigation will in large part determine who and what entity or country or industry will lead. As Musk said - we are merging with our devices (like it or not).
ANSWER: This raises an interesting question of where wearable technology ends and a cyborg begin. As exoskeletons and other forms of wearable technology become more and more integrated with the human user this line blurs. From a standards perspective, Committee on  Exoskeletons and Exosuits job is to develop standards that enable trust in the safety, performance, and the reliability of the technology in order to spur innovation. As humanity stretches into ever daring technology enabled endeavours, standards provide the confidence for humankind to take the next giant leap.

QUESTION 4 : Can we find a list of companies using Exos as PPE?
ANSWER: Toyota North America is using exoskeletons as PPE,Dow Chemical is using exoskeletons as engineering controls,and....

To be continued...

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