Workers in logistics, distribution or warehouses are prone to injuries, back pain, and exhaustion due to their demanding physical jobs involving lifting or carrying heavy loads. These concerns affect performance, but they are also costly for companies. To enhance the health and safety of these workers, Volker Bartenbach, with a background in exoskeleton research at ETH Zurich and his team, founded Auxivo to develop lightweight exoskeletons.
The first product, LiftSuit, launched in 2020, acts as a set of additional external muscles to unload the back and hip muscles while lifting and working in a forward-leaning position. It has integrated textile springs (muscles) that store energy used to support the user.
LiftSuit was initially developed in collaboration with Swissport as a partner to support airport workers. However, due to the business challenges caused by Covid-19 restrictions on travel, the startup and its partner faced disruptions, which resulted in expanding the application scope for the product. Besides airports, the LiftSuit is used in logistics, warehouses, agricultural fields and construction.
More than 100 customers, including some of Switzerland’s incumbent companies, provide their workers with the Liftsuit. “Individuals using the LiftSuit have reported seeing their tasks becoming easier and an improvement on their overall well being especially less exhaustion. This feedback is what we aim to achieve”, said Bartenbach. Moreover, thanks to the growing demand, the company sees a two-fold increase in revenues quarter on quarter.
New product launch with first customers
CarrySuit is a new product line designed for all tasks that require holding and carrying heavy loads. It is a passive, upper-body exoskeleton that reduces the load on the hands, arms, shoulders and back when carrying or holding heavy loads. It consists of a rigid exoskeleton frame, spanning from the user’s hip to above the shoulders. It can be directly connected via an adapter to external payloads and is suitable for fields such as construction, relocation, warehousing, logistics, and others. The startup has already onboarded the first customers.
Fast-paced growth worldwide
Since its establishment in 2019, Auxivo has made its way into several European, Asian and American markets – with its first customers in South America. The startup plans to strengthen its presence and expand into new markets whilst building out its global network of distributors. So far, more than ten distribution partners have supported the startup in growing its global customer base. Most recently, Vandeputte entered a partnership with Auxivo to bring the wearables to the Benelux region. “We are impressed by our distribution partners’ expertise in exoskeletons, and this is essential for us because of the nature of our products”, explains Bartenbach.
Auxivo has laid out several milestones for the envisaged growth phase, including scaling operations, internationalising to bring products to even more markets, and advancing the product pipeline. The ongoing series A round will contribute towards achieving these strategies.
(Ritah Ayebare Nyakato)