Willmott Dixon trials industry’s first robotic vest

October 5, 2018 / Isla MacFarlane
Willmott Dixon trials industry’s first robotic vest

Willmott Dixon has teamed up with robotics firm, Eksobionics, to trial a high-tech exoskeleton vest to protect supply chain partners working on a new school development in Cardiff.

Willmott Dixon is the first company in the construction industry to trial ‘Eksovest’ – an upper body exoskeleton vest that supports the arms during lifting.

Funded by Eureka, Willmott Dixon’s central research and development fund, the vest, which costs approximately £5,650, is being used on the Cardiff West Community High School site. The company will then demonstrate Eksovest at other sites across the country before introducing as standard depending on how the trials perform.

In Cardiff, the vest is assisting those working at the Cardiff West Community High School, a £31m project which will provide a new school for 1,200 secondary students as well a new home for more than 300 sixth-formers. It also holds the coveted “Ultra Site” status from the CCS (Considerate Constructors Scheme).

The site was chosen to trial the newly developed technology due to the range of technical activities required to complete the build.

Neal Stephens, managing director for Willmott Dixon Wales and South West, said, “Innovation is in our DNA and this could revolutionise the ability to lift items and perform repetitive overhead tasks. The wellbeing of our people and supply chain is always our number one priority and the more we can use technology to support this, the better.

“The Eksovest technology should lead to teams on site feeling less exerted, meaning improved wellbeing and productivity. This investment also demonstrates the development of our new Eureka fund in supporting technology and innovation that will drive change in our construction industry into the 21st century.”

At the moment, Willmott Dixon is trialling the technology, however but the aim is to roll them across all sites, including residential, so housebuilders may super humans marching onto sites within the next two years.

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