Ford has begun employing a new upper body exoskeleton across 15 plants globally to aid workers performing repetitive overhead tasks.
Ford’s EksoVest will help reduce the physical toll on employees during the vehicle assembly process, lessening the chance of worker fatigue, injury or discomfort.
Ford has partnered with Carlifornia-based Ekso Bionics to enhance this wearable technology that elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks such as reaching up with a power tool to screw bolts to secure the car’s brace – all while standing underneath the vehicle.
“Building vehicles is physically a tough job,” said Bruce Hettle, Ford group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. “We care about our employees and are trying to help them do their jobs with the least amount of wear and tear on their bodies possible.”
The EksoVest fits workers ranging from 5 feet 2 inches tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall and provides lift assistance from five pounds to 15 pounds per arm.
Ford workers testing the suit have said that the EksoVest is comfortable because it’s lightweight and not bulky, and allows them to move their arms easily.
Ford piloted the EksoVest at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne and Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, during the past year.
Feedback from plant operators helped refine the technology even further before the company rolled it out globally.
“At Ekso, our mission is to augment human capability with wearable technology and robotics that help people rethink current physical limitations and achieve the remarkable,” said Jack Peurach, president and chief executive officer of Ekso Bionics. “Advancing our collaboration with a global leader like Ford, represents a major step forward in achieving our mission as our EksoVest is deployed around the world to enhance the well-being of its work force.”
Image and content: Ford