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Technology to Assist with Lifting, Moving and Holding 0 to 40 Pounds


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems 

OBJECTIVE: The aerospace sustainment community has the need to augment the human body’s ability to lift/hold/move objects while keeping the natural range of motion. 

DESCRIPTION: Aerospace maintainers are required to lift/hold/move many different types of odd sized objects. Current lifting approaches include having one person lifting weights up to 40lbs, multi-person lifts, lifting belts etc. Current lifting/holding/moving approaches lead to musculoskeletal disorders involving the back, elbow, shoulder, knee and induce fatigue which are costly due to reduced work output and lost time. The objects have different shapes, weights, sensitivity to pressure and electromagnetic fields, etc. The maintainers work in all types of environmental conditions: operating temp. -40 to 140 deg. F, sun, rain, snow, winds up to 60 mph, dust, explosive atmospheres, inside buildings, etc. The terrain may be smooth or rough/uneven (i.e. an ICBM missile silo site (gravel field)). This lifting aid is intended for maintainers that hold objects (tool) at a point in space for long periods of time and move the object throughout the normal range of the human body. For example: A maintainer laying down uses a grinder to remove corrosion from under the launcher closure door (working space 22” high) at an ICBM launch facility. Lifting aid requirements include: Shall support its own weight, the weight of the operator, tool weight (0 – 40 lbs) and any forces produced by the tool ( i.e. torque). Shall lift/hold/move different types of objects without damage in the above described environmental conditions. Objects Examples: Grinders, NDI eddy current probes, Bead blast nozzles, the arm of the operator – for the light objects the operator may only need the arm supported The operator shall be able to lock the lifting aid into a desired position - while in the locked position the aid shall not have self-induced vibrational movements greater than 0.050 inch (0.005 inch is preferred) The aid shall be able to drag an umbilical cord, water line, air hoses etc. without encumbering the operator If the lifting aid requires an energy source - the source shall - be self-contained on the lifting aid, meet electromagnetic interference requirements (T.O. 21M-LBM30G-12), with minimum operational time of 4 hrs. before recharging / replacement Shall not emit fumes, aerosol, etc that adversely impact a bonding surface The aid shall: conform to all safety requirements for work in/around aerospace equipment, be fail safe to prevent injury to the operator in the event of system failure, allow for unencumbered wearing of fall arresting safety harness and designed to prevent falls, not impair the sight of the operator, and be fire/spark resistant i.e. grinder/welding sparks/slag Delivered prototypes shall have operation and maintenance manual and onsite training If the aid is wearable it shall: Match but not exceed the movement range of the nominal human body Provide biomechanical feedback to the operator Without help the operator shall be able to adjust the size for an ergonomic fit, don and doff the aid, and pickup or set down objects in an ergonomically correct manner Single or multiple lifting aid models are acceptable to meet the standing/confined space modes: Standing The operator shall be able to kneel down and rise to a standing position, lift and hold object overhead, step over items like air lines etc., walk at a speeds up to 5 mph Confined space Working space 1.5 to 4 feet in height The operator shall be able to lift/move/hold the object in an overhead position to the waist and left to right 

PHASE I: Develop a solution that meets above requirements and conduct preliminary business case analysis (BCA) to determine implementation costs, including a return-on-investment (ROI) calculation that compares anticipated savings to expected costs. Proof-of-concept prototype(s) shall be designed to conform to the requirements. 

PHASE II: Proof-of-concept prototype(s) shall be fabricated and tested in an operational environment. This process may require multiple iterations before a final design is selected. The final prototype shall undergo testing to verify and validate conformance to all requirements. Refine BCA/ROI based on the final design. 

PHASE III: If cost effective, transition and implement the verified and validated technology. 


1: T.O. 21M-LBM30G-12 "Safety and Electromagnetic Interference Provisions"

2: OSHA 1910 Fall Protection

3:  29 CFR 1929 "Equipment with a rated hoisting/lifting capacity of 2,000 pounds or less"


KEYWORDS: Lifting Aids, Exoskeletons 


Waylon Finley 

(406) 632-2448 

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