Ford Helps Michigan Assembly Line Workers Reduce Fatigue With Wearable "Exoskeleton"


Borgman Ford in Grand Rapids Applauds Ford For Investing In Their Employees' Well-Being

Borgman Ford is continually impressed with the advances Ford is making in their current and future generations of vehicles. However, this latest trial-run of new technology isn't going into the vehicles themselves but helping to support the workers who make them. With the help of Ekso Bionics in California, Ford is outfitting some of their assembly line workers with an advanced, non-powered exoskeleton to better support their upper body while performing tasks above their head.

In this latest article from the Official Ford Media Center, Ford tells more about the new technology, how it helps its workers both on and off the clock, as well as plans to expand their use to other parts of the globe. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology To Help Lessen Chance Of Worker Fatigue, Injury

Putting dishes on a high shelf or changing an overhead lightbulb occasionally might not be difficult, but could you imagine performing either of these tasks 4,600 times per day? How about 1 million times a year?

These are the approximate number of times some Ford assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks. At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly. But a new upper body exoskeletal tool – the result of a partnership between Ford and California-based Ekso Bionics – helps lessen the chance of injury.

“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.”

Called EksoVest, the wearable technology elevates and supports 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. It’s comfortable to wear because it’s lightweight, it isn’t bulky, and it allows workers to move their arms freely.

Designed and built for dynamic, real-world environments like factories, construction sites and distribution centers, the non-powered vest offers protection and support against fatigue and injury by reducing the stress and strain of high-frequency, long-duration activities that can take a toll on the body over time.

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

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