Ford Motor Company began deploying EksoVest, a robotic exoskeleton vest made by Ekso Bionic, which will make its factory employees safer and more efficient at work. The American automaker Ford will equip the workers of fifteen of its factories around the world with these exoskeletons.
Ford said that EksoVest will help to increase the arm strength of workers, especially when providing 5 to 15 pounds of power assistance while working on the bottom of the car. It will be reducing fatigue and work injuries, which is important for production line employees.
The workload is about the same as lifting the flour bag up 4,600 times. The company has tested EksoVest over the past year and will be deployed to 15 factories around the world for employees. These enhanced vests are expected to lighten the workload.
Marty Smets, a Ford human system and virtual manufacturing technology expert, points out that EksoVest’s enhancement is not human explosiveness, but endurance. This exoskeleton does not have a motor or power. It is a simple mechanical device.
Its light weight is easy to wear and its volume is not large enough to hinder the worker’s arm movement. Such a non-powered vest provides protection and support for the employee’s body by reducing the stress of long-term high frequency movements of the human body, preventing excessive weakness and injury and improving efficiency and morale.
Bruce Hettle, vice president of manufacturing and labor at Ford Group, stressed that investing in the latest ergonomics research is worthwhile. Improved assembly and lifting assists will help design more efficient assembly lines while providing customers with high quality products.
Through the investment in this project, the accident rate of employees is also greatly reduced, and the problem that some parts are difficult to assemble is solved. Of course, this technology can also be widely used in many industrial environments, including construction sites and distribution centers.
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Ekso Bionics produces EksoVest, is a developer of exoskeleton solutions whose main dealing is to increase human potential through endurance and mobility in health, industrial and defense applications.