Ford has taken to the use of exoskeletons to make working on the assembly line easier for its employees. It is expected that the use of these exoskeletons will make it possible for assembly line workers to minimize the toll that repetitive motions take, like injury and fatigue. Ford had launched the use of this wearable technology which is called the Eksovest at its Michigan Assembly Plant and Flat Rock Assembly Plant. The feedback for the pilot study was used for making further refinements and Ford then decided to launch its use on a global basis.
Commenting on the use of Eksovests, Bruce Hettle, Ford group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Affairs said that making vehicles is physically a highly demanding task and the company is employing the technology to help employees perform their jobs with the least amount of wear and tear on their bodies.
Ford developed the technology in partnership with Ekso Bionics on the technology, and it helps elevate and support a worker’s arms during tasks like use of powertools when assembling the vehicle overhead. The system has the capacity to provide lift assistance from five to 15 pounds per arm. The EksoVest can be adjusted to fit employees ranging in height from 5 feet 2 inches tall to 6 feet 4 inches. According to workers who have used the vest, it is lightweight and not bulky.
Ford will be implementing the use of the technology in 15 plants spread across seven countries. Every Ford factory in North America has EksoVests. Plants in the Asia Pacific, Europe, and South America also have access to the exoskeleton.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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