Following successful pilots, the Ahold Delhaize Supply Chain network will be scaling up the use of an innovative wearable technology that enhances the safety and effectiveness of distribution center associates. 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 distribution centers.
“Selecting product in a distribution center is very physical work, and not only is it very physical, but it’s also critical,” said Chris Lewis, President, Ahold Delhaize USA Supply Chain. “The associates in grocery distribution centers 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 care for the workforce in distribution centers by helping associates reduce fatigue, work more effectively and reduce the likelihood of injuries.”
A breakthrough product, Verve’s system is the first lightweight, powered soft exosuit designed for the industrial worker. The device reduces strain on a selector’s back by 30-40% 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. The technology doesn’t require any complex integration, 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.