Automotive factory workers who build cars on a daily basis experience constant repetitive motions, equal to having to lift a watermelon over your head up to 4,600 times per day.
It’s these types of motions that can lead not just to fatigue, but also injury – and this is where the EksoVest, a new wearable technology released globally aimed at helping to reduce injury risk, comes in.
The tech has already gone through a successful trial in two U.S. plants. Now, Ford employees in 15 plants and seven countries worldwide can use an EksoVest, a product co-developed by Ekso Bionics. The vest is said to elevate and support a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks, such as reaching up with a power tool while working underneath a vehicle.
“Building vehicles is physically a tough job,” stated Ford exec Bruce Hettle. “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.”
The EksoVest fits workers that range from 5 feet 2 inches tall (1.58 m) to 6 feet 4 inches tall (1.95 m), offering lift assistance from five pounds (2.2 kg) to 15 pounds (6.8 kg) per arm.
“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,” stated Ekso Bionics president and CEO, Jack Peurach. “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.”
Today, all of Ford’s North American assembly plants have EksoVests, which are also being used in plants found in the Asia Pacific region, Europe and South America.