The U.S. Army has selected Eckhart, a Warren-based advanced industrial solutions company, to improve artillery loading automation for Howitzer systems, a task that causes soldiers both fatigue and injury due to the weight of the shells and cramped spaces they operate in.
“The opportunity to improve soldier safety and efficiency within the Self-Propelled Howitzer is a challenge that we felt is best addressed by identifying and selecting qualified industry partners,” says Chris Sankovich, project manager and deputy team lead at the U.S. Army Applications Lab in Austin, Texas. “Our role is then to help take industry best practices and work with our cohort companies for timely and successful incorporation to the U.S. Army’s Howitzer systems.”
That company states it sees similarities between soldiers loading artillery and the lift-and-load work that is performed by its industrial customers on American manufacturing lines. Automated lift assist technology produced by Eckhart is designed to make exact and specific preprogrammed movements that either assist or completely lift a heavy object.
“In the Fortune 500 manufacturing environment that we have operated in for over six decades, there is an intense focus on optimizing the safety, ergonomics, and efficiency of technicians who perform assembly tasks each day,” says Travis Turner, general manager of Eckhart’s Davenport operations. “The Eckhart team has deep expertise working within tight ergonomic windows where thresholds define the maximum weights that can be lifted before mechanical assistance or a robotic alternative is required.”
Eckhart’s customers include 3M, Boeing, Pepsi, General Electric, and Caterpillar, among others, giving the company a solid foundation for solving operator safety and ergonomic manufacturing challenges.
“We’re excited to be part of such an innovative program that affords us an opportunity to bring disruptive technology to the U.S. Army. All stakeholders involved are committed to reshaping how industry works with the Army and reuniting American innovation and national security through the joint-partnership of our collective team,” says Turner.
Eckhart has been operating for more than 60 years, designing, building, and sustaining a portfolio of products, including autonomous guided vehicles, collaborative robot systems, traditional robotics, assembly automation and simulation, and 3D printing tool development and production.