Could the repetitive strain injuries and dangers linked to working on a vehicle assembly line be a thing of the past? Ford, a company whose assembly line workers lift their arms on average 4,600 times a day in order to perform overhead tasks, has partnered up with California-based Ekso Bionics to test new exoskeleton technology, the EksoVest, in two of its factories in Michigan. The EksoVest is worn like a backpack and can be adjusted to fit each worker. It provides lift assistance of up to 6.8 kg per arm with a mechanical system that relieves the pressure put on a worker’s shoulders, arms and back. This helps workers with tasks ranging from chest height to overhead. This partnership is part of Ford’s broader strategy of investing in ergonomics with the aim of reducing the physical toll work takes on its employees. For the moment four EksoVests are being tested in two factories in the States, but Ford has plans to test the technology in other regions as well including Europe and South America.
Monica Hutchings is a Canadian writer and translator from Toronto who has worked on everything from technical descriptions to academic journals. She is also our in-house DirectIndustry English translator.