Ford assembly line workers are equipped with a new last line of defense in the EksoVest, an upper body exoskeletal technology designed to protect against injury and fatigue.
True to its "built for tough" moniker, Ford's new EksoVest is worn during overhead assembly tasks, which cause shoulder and back pain to the tune of approximately 4,600 lifted arms a day working on chassis' suspended above them.
It does so by supporting the weight of a worker's arms with adjustable lift assistance of five and 15 pounds per arm, creating a weightless feeling. One could argue its akin to tweaking the effects of gravity.
"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."
Using this and similar technologies, Ford claims it has reduced its employee incident rates with a 90 percent decrease in related ergonomic issues.
Look for the EksoVest in two U.S. plants on a pilot run before being introduced to other regions, including Europe and South America.