On July 23, 2020, Hilti hosted its first virtual product launch for members of the press. The new lineup includes the: PMD 200 jobsite layout solution, diamond core drilling system DD 150-U, cordless die grinder GDG-A22, turbo cup wheel for angle grinders, Kwik Cast Connect (KCC) cast-in-place anchors, KH-EZ C countersunk screw anchors, cordless angle grinder AG 4S-A22, cordless angle grinder AG 4S-A22, cordless rivet tool RT 6-A22 and drywall screwdriver SD 5000-A22. Hilti also released a flap disc, fiber disc and abrasive belt portfolio, as well as its firestop, smoke and sound seals Top Track Seal CFS-TTS R OS and CFS-TTS 212.

The highlight of the product lunch was the EXO-O1 wearable exoskeleton. It is a passive model that does not require an energy supply. The weight of the arms is transferred to the hips via the forearm supports using mechanical cable pulling technology. Independent studies and Ottobock research have shown this reduces the peak load on the muscles and relieves shoulders by up to 47%.

Exoskeletons can therefore make a significant contribution to health protection, particularly regarding work performed above shoulder level and overhead work, Hilti noted. In terms of the construction industry, this targets serial or continuous activities.

“Hilti’s new human augmentation device will help commercial contractors, tradesman and management alike tackle health and safety as well as labor shortage challenges,” said Rafael Garcia, senior VP and CMO of Hilti North America. “Wearable systems like exoskeletons will help reduce strain and fatigue for both experienced and novice users, at a time when the industry is managing a workforce shortage challenge.”

To create the EXO-O1, Hilti Group partnered with the medical technology company Ottobock. The company is currently in real-world jobsite testing and will be bringing the exoskeleton to the market in January 2021.

“Exoskeletons are an important trend having great relevance for us,” said Johannes Huber, head of business unit Diamond Systems at Hilti Group, parent company of Hilti North America. “They provide relief for physically demanding tasks, such as those performed on construction sites every day. We want to improve the health and safety of our customers, directly impacting jobsite productivity — so they can stay on time and on budget. Customers that embrace innovation and invest in the latest health and safety technology will be better able to attract and retain the best people as well as keep their jobsites productive.”

The EXO-O1 is Hilti’s first foray into exoskeletons for the construction industry. There will be more human augmentation developments to come from the brand. The exoskeleton development is initially focused on overhead and shoulder height and above applications because this type of motion is so physically intensive and fatiguing.