Ford has partnered with California-based Ekso Bionics to develop an upper body exoskeleton that could lessen worker fatigue or injury while performing overhead tasks.
Called the EksoVest, the exoskeleton is the latest example of advanced technology Ford is using to reduce the physical toll on employees during the vehicle assembly process.
“My job entails working over my head, so when I get home my back, neck and shoulders usually hurt,” said Paul Collins, an assembly line worker at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. “Since I started using the vest, I’m not as sore, and I have more energy to play with my grandsons when I get home.”
The wearable technology is said to elevate and support a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks. It can be fitted to support workers ranging from 5 feet tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall, and provides adjustable lift assistance of five pounds to 15 pounds per arm.
Moreover it’s comfortable to wear because it’s lightweight, and since it isn’t bulky, EksoVest allows workers to move their arms freely.
The exoskeleton has been specifically built for dynamic, real-world environments like factories, construction sites and distribution centers.
“Collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers,” said Russ Angold, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ekso Bionics. “The end result is a wearable tool that reduces the strain on a worker’s body, reducing the likelihood of injury, and helping them feel better at the end of the day – increasing both productivity and morale.”
Image, video and content: Ford Media