DPD Germany trials exoskeleton parcel machines

DPD Germany is trialling the use of parcel carrying exoskeletons made by German Bionic. This can reduce the amount of manpower required to shift the heavier parcels the carrier transports, some of which weigh up to 31.5kg.

Over two months warehouse workers at Malsch near Karlsruhe used the technology to move heavier parcels. They found the machines so useful that the trial has now been extended.

The German Bionics Cray-X exoskeleton is strapped to the worker’s back and is similar to a hiking backpack, and then strapped to their body. It both keeps the wearer’s back straight at all times and then helps straighten the wearer’s back when lifting with the use of two motors that lift the operator’s shoulders. This can reduce the weight on their backs by up to 30kg in every movement.

Malsch was chosen as the depot has one particular client that sends more than 860,000 parcels of copying paper annually through the depot. These weigh typically 26kg.

“The Malsch depot was ideal for testing the Cray X under particularly physically demanding conditions,” says Björn Scheel, Chief Operating Officer at DPD Germany.
Staff found the gear particularly useful in swap bodies and semi trailers as it works better where they move within a manageable radius.

“Since the Cray X fits tightly on the body and is also connected to the thighs, it restricts the mobility of its wearer to some extent. However, when unloading parcels the employees always stay in one place. The Cray X is therefore particularly suitable here. It is less suitable for workplaces where greater distances have to be covered,” says Scheel.

DPD Germany now plans a longer term test in multiple locations. Seven German Bionics Cray X units will be deployed in three depots, testing overall advantages to the carrier and its personnel alike.