Ford equips assembly line workers with exoskeleton vests in new pilot program

10 November, 2017, 23:04 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • Ford exoskeleton

According to Ford, an average assembly line worker lifts their arms around a million times a year, leaving many of their employees at risk for injury. These are created to increase productivity and reduce injuries.

The EksoVest is described as wearable technology that helps elevate and provide support to a worker's arms while they are performing overhead tasks. The EksoVest is not powered in any way but has a spring mechanism which once activated can provide lift assistance of between five and fifteen pounds of weight per arm when someone is doing an overhead task.

"My job entails working over my head, so when I get home my back, neck and shoulders usually hurt", Paul Collins, an assembly line worker at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant, said in the company's statement.

The exoskeleton is called the EksoVest and it is developed by Ekso Bionics in partnership with Ford. Ford said the technology was engineered to work in real-life situations all day and offers incredible protection from stress and strain during repeated actions.

With support from the United Automobile Workers and Ford, EksoVest is being piloted in two US plants, with plans to test in other regions, including Europe and South America.

Ford recently expanded the use of Microsoft's HoloLens but designers aren't the only ones benefiting from advances in technology.

Between healthcare costs and lost work time, worker injury can be very expensive to automakers, so Ford and its competitors have been working to improve safety and reduce incidents.

These "EksoVests" are also being tested in other regions located in Europe and South America, but US testing has been going on since May at Ford's Wayne and Flat Rock factories. Between the years 2005 and 2016, an 83% decrease in injuries and work restrictions was reported, which is a rate of 1.55 incidents per 100 full time employees.

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