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06/29/2021

ADUSA Supply Chain Debuts Wearable Robotics Tech

Verve Motion’s AI-enabled ‘exosuits’ reduce fatigue and improve safety in DCs
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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ADUSA Supply Chain Debuts Wearable Robotics Tech Verve Motion
Verve Motion's AI-enabled exosuit doesn’t require any complex integration, can be put on in under 30 seconds, and automatically adapts to the user and task.

Following successful pilots, ADUSA Supply Chain will scale up the use of an innovative wearable technology that improves the safety and effectiveness of grocery distribution center employees. Over the past year, the wearable robotic systems, created by Verve Motion and called “exosuits,” were used by associates millions of times to lift product. Because of positive feedback from wearers, the pilot will now include more than 250 suits in affiliated distribution centers. 

“Selecting product in a distribution center is very physical work, and not only is it very physical, but it’s also critical,” noted Chris Lewis, president, ADUSA Supply Chain. “The associates in grocery distribution centers are nothing short of superheroes who keep product flowing through the supply chain to physical and digital store shelves and ultimately to consumers’ tables. This has never been further demonstrated than during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re proud to pilot solutions like this one that enable us and our partners to care for the workforce in distribution centers by helping associates reduce fatigue, work more effectively and reduce the likelihood of injuries.”   

Verve’s artificial intelligence-enabled system is the first lightweight, powered soft exosuit designed for industrial workers. It reduces strain on a selector’s back by 30% to 40% during a typical workday, making each 22-pound item feels like 14 pounds, a reduction that adds up over time. During the pilot, the vast majority of those using exosuits reported less fatigue and soreness, as well as better posture.

“Essential workers such as food and delivery personnel have carried us through a very challenging time,” said Ignacio Galiana, CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based Verve. “At Verve, our mission is to advance worker safety and performance to allow front-line workers to effectively execute their work, while focusing on their well-being. Our partnership with the ADUSA Supply Chain network and its affiliates has enabled us to demonstrate that our product can greatly reduce strain off a selector’s back, improve lifting form and lower fatigue. We are excited to partner with companies, who, like the ADUSA Supply Chain network and its partners, are as passionate about associate safety and well-being as our team. Together, we are seeing real and tangible benefits and further developing the distribution center of the future.”

The technology doesn’t require any complex integration, can be put on in under 30 seconds, and automatically adapts to the user and task. It also has ample battery life, so it can be used for an entire shift, including overtime.

Added Lewis: “We look forward to continuing to innovate solutions to support the workforce as we continue to transform the supply chain.” 

Earlier this year, ADUSA Supply Chain sister company Retail Business Services launched a pilot of UV disinfection robots from Cambridge, Mass.-based Ava Robotics in two of its affiliated distribution centers to aid in enhanced cleaning procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Scarborough, Maine-based ADUSA Supply Chain is a family of supply chain companies that together support one of the largest supply chains on the East Coast, serving the omnichannel grocery brands of Ahold Delhaize USA — Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Co., Hannaford, and Stop & Shop, through a self-distribution model. A division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, Ahold Delhaize USA operates more than 2,000 stores across 23 states and is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in the United States.

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