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Technology to Assist with Lifting, Moving and Holding 0 to 300 Pounds


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems 

OBJECTIVE: The aerospace sustainment community has the need to augment the human body’s ability to lift/hold 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 multi-person lifts, lifting belts, cranes etc. Current lifting/holding/moving approaches lead to musculoskeletal disorders involving the back, elbow, shoulder, knee and induce fatigue or are unusable in all environmental conditions. This leads to costs 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 to aid the operator in picking up moving and holding objects at a point in space for long periods of time. For example the 583 MMXS performs depot level maintenance on ICBM Launch Facilities (LF) and Missile Alert Facilities (MAF). During this maintenance cranes are used to move wheels that way up to 300 LBS. Cranes cannot operate in windy conditions. LF and MAF facilities commonly have winds up to 60mph. Lifting aid requirements include: -Shall support its own weight, the weight of the operator and the object weight (0 – 300 lbs) -Shall have methods such that the lifting aid can hold/lift different types of objects without damaging the objects. Examples of objects: Pallets, Blast nozzles, cylindrical objects (Wheels, landing gear cylinders) -The aid shall be able to lift objects from the ground up to head height and be able to detach from the object i.e. lift a pallet from the ground and place on a truck in all of the above described environmental conditions -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 would 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 a 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 - The operator shall be able to kneel down and rise to a standing position, lift and hold at head height, step over items like air lines etc., walk at a speeds up to 5 mph 

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:  29 CFR 1926 "Equipment with a rated hoisting/lifting capacity of 2,000 pounds or less"

3:  OSHA 1910 Fall Protection


KEYWORDS: Lifting Aids, Exoskeletons 


Waylon Finley 

(406) 632-2448 

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