Ford has teamed up with Ekso Bionics to create this EksoVest exoskeleton for its workers who perform repetitive overhead tasks. Such employees in 15 plants globally, will receive this wearable technology.
“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,” Ford says.
Repetitive motions like those can lead to fatigue and injury for workers. The EksoVest will help lessen the physical toll that their job takes on their body.
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.
The EksoVest fits workers ranging from 5 feet 2 inches tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall and provides lift assistance from 5 pounds to 15 pounds per arm. In simple words, think of it as an extra pair of helping hands behind you.
“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 possible.”
“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.”