Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Ford's Exoskeleton Helps Assembly Line Workers Avoid Fatigue, Injury

Ford's Exoskeleton Helps Assembly Line Workers Avoid Fatigue, Injury

Ekso Bionics co-founder Russ Angold told Ford that this collaboration allows them to "test and refine early prototypes" of the vest. Over time, the possibility of fatigue or a repetitive strain injury increase substantially. "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".

As part of a pilot program, the company is having assembly line workers test out an upper body exoskeletal technology called EksoVest.

The vest adds an extra five to 15 pounds of lifting effort, which can be helpful for lifting heavy objects, but in this case is being mainly tested during tasks requiring employees to raise their arms overhead to work on the underside of vehicles suspended from above.

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.

Ford has started piloting an exoskeleton vest created to assist with lifting actions involving five to 15 pounds at two of its US plants.

"The health and safety of our membership has always been our highest priority", UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles said in the automaker's release.

Recently we learned that Ford was incorporating the HoloLens into some of its production procedures, but the car-maker is also considering some other innovations by testing an exoskeleton that some of its workers can use on the production line. Between the years 2005 and 2016, an 83% decrease in injuries and work restrictions was reported, which is a rate of 1.55 incidents per 100 full time employees.

It's already happening, to some extent - as workers on Ford production lines in America are testing 'bionic' exoskeleton suits made by Ekso.

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