First tests, and effects, of exoskeletons on winegrowers’ backs

Thursday March 18 2021 by Vitisphere

 These initial tests still need to be confirmed by further trials. These initial tests still need to be confirmed by further trials. - Photo credit : Alexandre Abellan (Vitisphere)

Once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to keep it. After a week of exoskeleton tests at the beginning of March on several different workstations, the results were deemed very promising by the technical teams at Château Lagrange with its 118 hectares of 1855 classified vineyards in Saint-Julien. Fatigue from a number of repetitive tasks, such as moving cases of wine or pruning vines, was relieved by the assistance of customised exoskeletons. In this case, the equipment provided assistance for the body and joint relief by physically distributing loads, using elastic, springs, cables, plates, etc.

The aim of the equipment is to target musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), which are a burden on the health of wine workers. “In the vineyard, once you've introduced electric pruning secateurs, there’s not much else you can do”, said Benjamin Vimal, assistant manager of the Médoc property. The Skelex IP 12 (Europe Technologies Group) handling model was tested and helped employees working with their arms in the air. “It reduces perceived weight. Your arms feel light when raised”, says André Cardenas, the mechanic at Château Lagrange.

The LiftSuit textile exoskeleton takes the strain off the lower back. “Due to the heat, it should be tried during shoot thinning. There’s already condensation!” admitted Philippe Bataille, winegrower at Château Lagrange. Pruning low to the ground under a hot spring sun, he seems visibly impressed though by the effects of the exoskeleton: “When I reach down it doesn’t hold me back. There is less pain and I go at the same speed”.

 

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