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Bionic enhancement refers to supporting systems worn close to or within the human body that augment capabilities of the body and mind. Advanced wearables and exoskeletons can support logistics workforces, especially older workers, in areas such as training, communication, process execution, and optimization. Most importantly, they can minimize health and safety risks in supply chains.

Key Developments & Implications

Normally reserved for manufacturers and healthcare providers, bionic enhancements are now beginning to enter the logistics industry. This initial appearance points to the rapid acceleration of growth experienced in both the smart wearables market and the exoskeleton market over the past two years.

While bionic enhancements as a whole are usually seen as potential aids for more strenuous, physically active occupations within the industry, they can also benefit employees in office-based roles. Labor shortages and an aging workforce (see Silver Economy) have elevated the focus on health and safety in all divisions. Experiments and trials have shown that bionic enhancements can effectively combat work-related fatigue, injury, and musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.

  • Wearable workforce intelligence is broadly augmenting logistics workers with many tasks, from safety and awareness to ergonomics and productivity. Today smart glasses are used within DHL operations (see Augmented & Virtual Reality), and sensors that monitor posture and movement are helping to reduce injury and optimize body positioning in the workplace. However, within the coming decade smart wearables are anticipated to miniaturize even further and connect even closer to the human body.

  • Exoskeletons are starting to appear more in the logistics workplace. Both “active” exoskeletons (motorized designs) and “passive” exoskeletons (designs with components like springs that store and release energy) are becoming even lighter and more manageable. Exoskeletons for lifting and reaching are highly relevant for logistics, applicable for sorting, picking, packing, (un)loading, inducting parcels and overhead work. Maintenance technicians on crowded logistics facility floors, as well as older employees with limited strength or dexterity (see Silver Economy), may find such types of exoskeleton useful.

Logistics Trend Radar 5th Edition

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Talk to an Expert

Tanja Grauf

Innovation Manager
DHL Innovation Center, Germany

Tanja is a creative problem solver working as an Innovation Manager at the DHL Innovation Center in Germany. As part of the DHL Trend Research team, she is driving the digitalization and innovation agenda at DHL through her work focusing on identifying, piloting and implementing new technologies in logistics operations. Tanja’s work focuses on future applicability of wearables and bionic enhancement technologies within operations across the supply chain industry.

Tanja joined Deutsche Post DHL Group in 2018. She has previous work experience in Product Management and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing and Supply Chain Management.

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