U.S. 3PL adopts exoskeletons for DC workers

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

As a result of successful trials, ADUSA Supply Chain network is expanding the use of exosuits in its grocery distribution centres.

Over the past year, the wearable robotic systems, developed by Verve Motion and known as exosuits, were used for millions of lifts of product. Based on positive feedback from wearers, the pilot will be scaled up to include more than 250 suits in affiliated DCs.

“Selecting product in a distribution centre is very physical work, and not only is it very physical, but it’s also critical,” said Chris Lewis, president of ADUSA Supply Chain.

“The associates in grocery distribution centres are nothing short of superheroes who keep product flowing through the supply chain to physical and digital store shelves and ultimately to consumers’ tables. This has never been further demonstrated than during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re proud to pilot solutions like this one that enable us and our partners to care for the workforce in distribution centers by helping associates reduce fatigue, work more effectively and reduce the likelihood of injuries.”

Verve’s system is a lightweight, powered soft exosuit designed for the industrial worker. The device reduces strain on a selector’s back by 30 to 40 percent during a typical workday. This means that each 22-pound item feels like 14 pounds, a reduction that really adds up over a shift, a week or a year.

During the pilot, feedback from wearers has been positive with a vast majority reporting reduced fatigue, soreness and better posture.

“Essential workers such as food and delivery personnel have carried us through a very challenging time,” said Ignacio Galiana, CEO of Verve Motion.

“At Verve, our mission is to advance worker safety and performance to allow frontline workers to effectively execute their work, while focusing on their well-being. Our partnership with the ADUSA Supply Chain network and its affiliates has enabled us to demonstrate that our product can greatly reduce strain off a selector’s back, improve lifting form and lower fatigue.”

The technology takes less than 30 seconds to put on and automatically adapts to the user and task. It also has ample battery life so it can be worn for an entire shift, including overtime. In addition, a connected platform enables customers to analyze movement data to provide workplace safety recommendations along with detailed reporting and a dashboard view of key worker metrics and statistics.

“We look forward to continuing to innovate solutions to support the workforce as we continue to transform the supply chain,” added Lewis.

ADUSA Supply Chain is a family of supply chain companies that support the omnichannel grocery brands of Ahold Delhaize USA – Food Lion, Giant Food, The GIANT Company, Hannaford and Stop & Shop.