Ford is expanding the use of its EksoVest wearable tech globally after a successful trial at two U.S. plants.
Ford employees in 15 plants and seven countries around the world are able to use an EksoVest to help lessen the physical toll their job takes on their body. Ford partnered with Ekso Bionics to enhance the wearable technology that elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks such as reaching up with a power tool to screw bolts to secure the car’s brace – all while standing underneath the vehicle.
“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.”
The EksoVest provides lift assistance from 2.2kg to 6.8kg per arm.
Ford piloted the EksoVest at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, and Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, during the past year. The feedback from plant operators helped refine the technology before the company rolled it out globally.
“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,” said Jack Peurach, president and chief executive officer of Ekso Bionics. “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.”
All of Ford’s North American assembly plants have EksoVests and they are being used in plants in Asia Pacific, Europe and South America as well.