Nissan Motor Ibérica will soon complete the testing phase of a pioneering exoskeleton project before integration into production lines at Barcelona’s Zona Franca plant.
The external exoskeleton devices help reduce the stresses normally placed on the muscles of line workers by up to 60%, lowering the risk of work-related injuries and enhancing overall wellbeing.
The Catalan Automotive Industry Cluster (CIAC) is sponsoring the project to introduce exoskeletons into the automotive industry, with the Eurecat Technology Centre and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) also taking part.
Nissan Spain has facilitated the extensive testing of the exoskeletons in a real production setting, trialling five different models that support the legs, shoulders and back since the start of 2018. Feedback from the 14 participating employees helped Nissan identify the two models offering the lowest weight, highest level of and best performance.
These two models, further tested between May and July 2019, provide optimum shoulder support for workers performing overhead tasks during a significant percentage of their shift. Made of light alloy materials, the futuristic devices weigh between 1.5 and 3 kilograms.
“At Nissan we believe innovation should transform not only the way people drive but also how they live. With technology bringing value to our customers, it is only right our employees benefit as we work to improve working conditions,” says Lluís Sellarès, Production Engineering Manager at NMISA’s assembly plant in the Zona Franca.
“We are very pleased to be part of a landmark project for the industry which serves as a launchpad for upscaling ergonomic support of manufacturing roles across our plants.”
The Government of Catalonia’s Catalan Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (ICSSL) has reviewed the tests carried out in these first two stages. The project will reach its final conclusion by the end of 2019, with potential for integration into the Zona Franca production line process and in other plants thereafter.