Here at Carbon Fiber Gear, we’ve blogged a lot about the use of carbon fiber in cars. And we’ve even covered some of the deals done to include our all-time favorite composite in upcoming projects. But now, because of the innovative efforts over at Audi, we’re even prouder to present a little insight into how carbon fiber is being used on the other side of the assembly line.
Citing the health of its employees as the initial point of inspiration, Audi has begun testing an exoskeleton that is said to improve posture while reducing the leg strain of those having to bend, twist, tighten, turn and stand for hours on their assembly lines.
“It helps us to enhance our employees’ well-being and maintain their health over the long term,” states Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, Audi’s Board of Management Member for Production. “At the same time, an ergonomically optimized working environment promotes more productivity and even better quality.”
This “chairless chair,” as they’re calling it, is supported by a pair of struts constructed from a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) that can be hydraulically adjusted to conform to the contours of the wearer’s legs as well as adapt to the size of their body and the desired position of their posterior.
All the employee has to do is strap in, via a series of belts that tie around their waist, knees, ankles and thighs, and they’ll be able to work in an “ergonomically favorable position” — Audi’s words, not ours — so that they don’t have to put any undue stress on their legs or back. (The “chair” itself weighs just over 5 pounds.)
It’s an awesome idea, making the chairs and stools used now, all but obsolete. Though the idea doesn’t come without a hint of czar-like creepiness on the part of their producers.
“Audi hopes that the use of the exoskeleton will reduce employee absenteeism for physical reasons.”
This makes it sound like Audi’s a little less stressed about the health of their employees than they are about making as many cars as possible, with the fewest interruptions in between. (I mean, can there really be that many people taking days off for achey legs and bad backs?)
Regardless, we’re excited to see someone thinking outside of the box and incorporating carbon fiber into anything and everything imaginable.
Now if only someone would construct a carbon fiber Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader like they have in all those Alien movies. (Warning, clip contains some language NSFW.)
[Sources: Audi ]