Faro S.p.A., an Italian company leader in the design and production of equipment for manufacturers of dental units, dental cabinets and orthodontics laboratories, has relied on Comau to reduce the fatigue of its workers. MATE is an exoskeleton developed by Comau to relieve shoulder stress for operators who often keep their arms overhead, even when not lifting weights. The assembly line staff at Faro S.p.A. is already benefiting from the use of this tool, which is enhancing their working conditions.
Paolo Varisco, Head of the Operations at Faro, explains: “Since 1948, when it was founded by Osvaldo Favonio, Faro has established a strong bond with its employees and has paid attention to their working conditions and needs”.
Operators working in the lamp assembly line at Faro don’t have to lift heavy objects, since the complete unit only weighs about 7 kg, but they do repeat the same movements hundreds of times. Therefore, after several hours of work, fatigue begins to take its toll on their shoulders. This is a perfect application for MATE. Currently, Faro is equipped with a single exoskeleton which is used by two operators, one of whom wears it for an entire shift.
Mr. Varisco concluded: “MATE is extremely easy to wear and the operators and put it on without asking for help. It’s easy to use, as well. A single half a day of training is more than enough to work independently. Thanks to the enthusiasm of our staff, we are already planning to purchase other exoskeletons in the near future”.
MATE stands for “Muscular Aiding Tech Exoskeleton” and is indeed a great workmate. As a trustworthy coworker, it supports the operator by reducing the stress on the upper limbs when performing overhead operations. Developed in collaboration with ÖSSUR, an Icelandic leading non-invasive orthopedic company, and IUVO, a spin-off company of the Italian BioRobotics Institute specialized in wearable technologies, the Exoskeleton marketed by Comau is fully able to replicate dynamic movements of the shoulder while enwrapping the body like a second skin. This ensures greater comfort for the worker and increases work quality and efficiency by providing consistent movement assistance during manual and repetitive tasks.
Elena Corsi, Product Marketing Manager at Comau, explained: “MATE is an exoskeleton with a completely passive mechanical structure. In fact, its main job is not helping the operator lift heavy weights but supporting the arms at an angle between 30 and 120 degrees, which is the angle formed by the arm and the upper body. In this condition, MATE transfers much of the burden away from the arms to the pelvis, near the center of gravity.
“The burden is reduced by means of springs which generate a variable torque that replicates the physiological movement of the shoulder. The springs are calibrated on seven different levels, depending on the weight and height of the worker, and on the type of operation: it will be lighter in the case of nonstop arm movements, and more intense if the operator has to keep the arms overhead for a long period of time”.