Atoun, which seems to be a business unit of Panasonic, has introduced its powered exoskeleton into a food recycling business, saying that it is targeting the supply of 20 units this year.
Atoun produces an exoskeleton called “Powered Wear Atoun Model Y”, which it describes as a “wearable robot” for the waist designed to reduce work-induced burdens from the backs of workers and improve work efficiency.
This product was recently introduced to one of the recycling centers of Hamada Kagaku, a company engaged in environmental businesses such as the recycling of used cooking oil and food residue.
Recycling food has been drawing a great deal of attention in recent years not only in Japan but also worldwide.
The use of the powered wear at the recycling plant further promotes environmental actions; thus, it is a socially significant endeavor.
It is also expected to create new demand for the powered wear in this business field. Atoun will deliver a total of 12 units to all facilities operated by Hamada Kagaku.
The recently delivered Powered Wear Atoun Model Y units are used by workers who remove collected meat fats – beef fat and pork fat – from containers.
Since the containers of collected meat fats vary in type and shape, it is difficult to mechanize or automate the removal process.
Meat fats in baskets are particularly heavy, so they place a severe burden on the backs of the workers.
Use of the powered wear reduces the physical burden to the workers and also improves the work efficiency.
The workers who use the powered wear said, “We were wearing waist supporters before, but once we started using the powered wear, we no longer need the waist supporters. The work is much easier to perform thanks to the powered wear.”
While examining the effect of the powered wear in use, Atoun and Hamada Kagaku plan to collaboratively propose “workstyle reforms” to the recycling and environmental business fields.
A spokesperson for Atoun said: “Using the success of the powered wear by Hamada Kagaku as a springboard, we will address the dissemination of the product to the environmental business field.
“We aim to deliver 20 units to recycling companies in fiscal 2018.”
Hamada Kagaku said: “This machine alleviates the burden of lifting heavy items. In addition, we’d like to ensure fair evaluation of work performance by utilizing the sensing function so that we can create a worker-friendly environment.
“We hope that the use of the powered wear by our company will spur workstyle reforms in the recycling business field.”