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Ford And Ekso Bionics Pilot Exoskeleton Technology For Auto Workers

11 November 2017, 8:25 am EST By Athena Chan Tech Times
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Ford and Ekso Bionics have teamed up to test an upper body exoskeleton technology on Ford's assembly line employees. With the help of EksoVest, employees feel less fatigued after a day of work.

Ford Pilots Exoskeleton Technology On Employees

On a regular day, Ford's assembly line workers need to raise their arms for prolonged periods of time to perform overhead tasks, leaving them at risk for injury and fatigued at the end of the day. Ekso Bionics' exoskeletal tool EksoVest may just change that.

EksoVest is a lightweight upper body exoskeletal technology that lifts and supports a worker's arms when they need to reach up. It can fit workers of varying heights from 5 feet to 6 feet 4 inches, and can provide lift assistance to up to 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) per arm. Workers can also move freely even while fitted with the EksoVest because it is lightweight at just 9.5 pounds (4.3 kilograms) and is not bulky.

EksoVest is designed for real-world environments such as factories and construction sites so as to reduce injury and stress on the body as a result of long-duration activities. This leaves workers with more energy after work, and increases morale and productivity over time.

"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," said Ford assembly line worker Paul Collins.

Safety At Ford Motors

Ford is proving to be quite the versatile company. After it released a prototype for the sleek Max Motor Dreams smart crib in April, it's now utilizing bionic technology to help factory employees work safer.

This isn't the first time that Ford is placing importance on employees' safety and physical welfare, as its collaboration with Ekso Bionics is merely the latest and perhaps most technologically advanced of its methods so far. Between the years of 2005 and 2016, the company saw a whopping 83 percent decrease in workplace incidents that result in transfers, days away from work, and work restrictions. Today, Ford is at an all-time-low of 1.55 incidents per 100 employees across their North American factories.

"Investing in the latest ergonomics research, assembly improvements and lift-assist technologies has helped us design efficient and safe assembly lines, while maintaining high vehicle quality for our customers," said Bruce Hettle, Ford group vice president.

Ekso Bionics

Ekso Bionics is a California-based company that specializes in robotic exoskeletons that can be used in real-world situations. Over the course of 10 years, Ekso Bionics has created exoskeletal products with applications in medical and industrial settings.

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