'Zero gravity' arms enhance construction safety
Hong Kong-based company Gammon Construction has adopted ‘zero gravity arms’ to increase safety and decrease its workload.
The company has faced both manpower shortages and an ageing workforce, and has adopted this system from Sigma Ergonomics as a means of attracting new workers and reducing workloads for its current staff.
The mounted exoskeletal system functions without the need for power. This allows workers to comfortably operate heavy tools including impact drills, chipping hammers and grinders for extended periods.
With the zero-gravity arms shouldering the weight of the equipment, workers are not affected by the strain and fatigue caused by repetitive tasks such as drilling, tiling, chipping and grinding.
The Ekso Bionics Aerial System, to which the Zero G system is mounted, is designed to increase safety and productivity while working from an elevated work platform (EWP).
The Zero G arms are designed to hold tool payloads of up to 19 kg and fully balance the weight, thus allowing the user to freely, safely and accurately manoeuvre the load in any direction without injury or fatigue.
As well as eliminating the risk of dropping heavy tools from heights, the system significantly reduces the risk of injury from heavy tool usage and awkward body positions.
In a recent direct comparison with an access work platform (AWP) at a height services installation, the Zero G system improved the productivity of the drilling work task by over 50% while reducing worker fatigue and improving safety and efficiency.
The system has been successfully deployed at a construction site of a data centre in Hong Kong’s Tseung Kwan O district and at a transport terminus in Kowloon, with very positive feedback from workers and their managers.
Benefits reported by workers included ease of use, comfortable to operate and an ergonomic design.
“Following the success of the Ekso Bionics Aerial Systems, we plan to expand the trial scheme to several other of our worksites in the region,” said Andy Wong, Gammon Construction’s innovation manager.
Requiring less than 30 minutes of operator training to achieve competency, the ergonomic tool arms have a variety of mounting options to suit the application, including portable gantries, carts, jib arms and linear rails.
In addition, the systems require very little maintenance, have no expensive inputs like electricity or compressed air, and have been successfully used in a variety of industries from aerospace and defence to automotive manufacturing.
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