Imagine lifting a bag of flour
or a watermelon over your head up to 4,600 times a day as part of your job –
that is similar to what some Ford employees do every day as they work to build
vehicles around the world. Repetitive motions like those can lead to fatigue
and injury for workers, but now Ford is rolling out a new wearable technology
globally called EksoVest that helps reduce injury risk in some plant workers
after a successful trial in two U.S. plants.
Ford employees in 15 plants
and seven countries around the world are able to use an EksoVest to help lessen
the physical toll that their job takes on their body. Ford partnered with 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
“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
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 say it’s
comfortable because it’s lightweight and not bulky, allowing them to move their
“I don’t want the EksoVest to
ever leave,” said Nick Gotts, an original EksoVest operator at Flat Rock
Assembly, “Any job that’s overhead, I wouldn’t work without it.”
Ford piloted the EksoVest at
Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. and Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat
Rock, Mich., during the past year. The feedback from plant operators helped
refine the technology 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, adding that,
“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.”
All of Ford’s North American
assembly plants have EksoVests and they are being used in plants in Asia
Pacific, Europe and South America as well. For more information on the Ford and
Ekso Bionics partnership, click here.
Source: Ford Motor Company
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