Sensitive sensors needed for delicate rehabilitation robot

Swiss company Lambda Health developed a robot used in assisting patients with a neurological condition to retrain motor control and strengthen muscles of their lower limbs. Due to the nature of this task, the most sensitive highly precise sensors from SCHUNK were required.

In 2015, the fellow students Aurélien Fauquex and Yannick Charrotton founded Lambda Health as a start-up. “The medical devices area was particularly interesting for us,” says co-founder Charrotton, CTO of Lambda Health. The robot is used for supporting patients during the rehabilitation of their locomotor system. While the founders were working for the University of Applied Sciences in Yverdon-les-Bains, they got started with Lambda Health. Approximately one year after the company was founded, they reached the first milestone: the rehabilitation robot received the CE seal, which certified its medical performance, so now they were able to start selling them.  

Precise force/torque measuring is essential

The key components of the robot are the two sensors in the foot pedals, which measure the force by which the patient participates in movement. Charrotton notes “a precise connection between patient, therapist and robot is very important, therefore, we required a precise sensor.“ Lambda Health only considered SCHUNK as the supplier as they were sure that the precision of the components together with the many years of experience in FT sensor systems would offer the required process reliability in the direct contact between sensor and patients. Lambda tested the SCHUNK FTN-AXIA80 extensively for a whole year before buying them. 

With this model, the Swiss company benefits from the low measurement resolution of 0.1 N combined with a measurement range of just 2%. Another particularly attractive feature for Lambda is that the FTN-AXIA80 offers high overload protection. 

SCHUNK a reliable life-science partner 

As a start-up company, they relied heavily on the advice from SCHUNK experts in the initial phase of planning. Charrotton praises the team who helped them to select the correct sensor for the task: “We initially had our eye on another, more expensive sensor, but SCHUNK recommended an alternative for our application, which was more appropriate for our requirements and more attractive in price.  We very much appreciated this kind of professional behavior.“ Compared to the original solution, the decision to purchase the current SCHUNK sensor resulted in a cost savings of 40% per sensor for Lambda.  

Partner in dialog with their customers

SCHUNK has many years of expert knowledge in the field of medical devices and offers a broad product portfolio and know-how for implementing various solutions. The family-owned company works closely with customers to supply the life science industry with suitable solutions, which include grippers, rotary modules, linear modules, and components for sensor technology for over 30 years. Due to the digitalization of the industry, mechatronic components especially are gaining importance, their increasingly intelligent properties offer new ways of individual customization and analysis.

Lambda sees SCHUNK as an equal partner: “Even though we are a comparatively small company, we feel that we are taken seriously and respected,” says Charrotton. For SCHUNK, the relationship with Lambda is also promising as they are an important representative in the field of medical devices, which is a new and promising industry for SCHUNK. Robel Getachew is responsible for the New Market division at SCHUNK and he confirms: “Lambda Health is a valued customer for us, especially in this niche market. The exchange of experience is very important for us. We get very high-quality feedback on the product from Lambda, which allows us to further improve our technology!“

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Lambda was able to sell a few units of the rehabilitation robot. “Recently, it has proven to be more of a challenge, because it was more complicated to present our product in clinics,“ said Yannick Charrotton. However, for 2021 he sees light at the end of the tunnel and wants to produce and sell more units again because we already sold other devices. In the future, Lambda also wants to focus on the home care sector. “We are developing a simpler and more cost-attractive solution for the domestic area, where we see a lot of potentials.

Lambda Health 

Lambda Health System SA was founded as a med-tech spin-off of the Swiss University of Applied Sciences HEIG-VD in 2015, and currently employs seven people. At the company’s site in Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland, Lambda manufactures innovative rehabilitation robots for mobilizing the human locomotor system.  Lambda Health has already received several awards such as the European Mechatronic Award or the Generation Entrepreneur Award. Organizations and institutions such as the Swiss Agency for Innovation Promotion support the start-up. 

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