Ford workers test exoskeletons for overhead tasks and injury protection
- The Ford Motor Company says it is testing an exoskeleton, a rigid body covering, that eases heavy lifting and helps with performing overhead tasks. Ford partnered with Ekso Bionics, which designed the non-powered exoskeleton called the EksoVest.
- Ford employees perform lifting and overhead tasks up to 4,600 times a day, or a million times a year. The EksoVest allows workers to lift five to 15 pounds per arm, while easing upper-body strain and preventing fatigue, Ford said in a press release.
- With support from the United Automobile Workers and Ford, EksoVest is being piloted in two U.S. plants, with plans to test in other regions, including Europe and South America, Ford says.
With back pain being one of the most common health problems, the EksoVest could be a solution to the physical strain many workers in heavy-labor occupations face daily. So problematic is back pain, that employers have started including back-pain management in their wellness programs.
The EksoVest and other similar inventions have the potential to improve diversity in manufacturing and construction, giving older workers and those with disabilities access to jobs that might otherwise be out of reach. It also aims to reduce fatigue, potentially limiting accidents in the workplace.
These exoskeletons are an interesting example of the potential future of human and tech collaboration. While automation is only growing in the workplace, pairings like this also reveal the inclusive power of tech.