Ahold Delhaize’s ADUSA Supply Chain is scaling up the use of wearable robotics that are helping its employees reduce the fatigue of warehouse work.
Over the past year, the company said it had successfully piloted the use of Verve Motion’s “exosuits” designed to reduce strain of order selecting and lifting by 30% to 40% during a typical workday. Based on positive feedback from workers, ADUSA said it would increase the number of suits available to 250 at its various distribution centers.
“Selecting product in a distribution center is very physical work, and not only is it very physical, but it’s also critical,” Chris Lewis, president of ADUSA Supply Chain, said in a statement. “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 to care for the workforce in distribution centers by helping associates reduce fatigue, work more effectively and reduce the likelihood of injuries.”
ADUSA said Verve’s system is the first lightweight, battery powered soft exosuit designed for the industrial worker. The suits apply assistance in parallel with the user’s movements, helping to make a 22-pound lift “feel like” lift 14 pounds to the user. The reduced fatigue can result in fewer injuries, and less turnover over time, which can reduce costs and aid productivity, Verve said.
“Essential workers such as food and delivery personnel have carried us through a very challenging time," said Ignacio Galiana, CEO of Verve Motion, Cambridge, Mass. “At Verve, our mission is to advance worker safety and performance to allow front-line workers to effectively execute their work while focusing on their well-being. Our partnership with the ADUSA Supply Chain network and its affiliates has enabled us to demonstrate that our product can greatly reduce strain off a selector’s back, improve lifting form and lower fatigue. We are excited to partner with companies, who, like the ADUSA Supply Chain network and its partners, are as passionate about associate safety and well-being as our team. Together, we are seeing real and tangible benefits and further developing the distribution center of the future.”
ADUSA Supply Chain serves the omnichannel grocery brands of Ahold Delhaize USA—Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford and Stop & Shop—through a self-distribution model.