EksoVest Wearable Tech Rolls Out at 15 Ford Plants
Science fiction films like Aliens and Edge of Tomorrow among others put forth the idea of a future where powerful exoskeletons will enable humans to far exceed their physical capabilities — and ward off giant alien queens. Ford Motor Company has already succeeded to an extent in making that bit of fiction a fact with its new EksoVest wearable technology, which helps its employees in 15 global manufacturing facilities cut down on injury and fatigue.
“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.”
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Capable of fitting employees between 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 6 feet, 4 inches tall, the EksoVest offers lift assistance between 5-15 pounds per arm. While that’s probably not enough to go toe-to-toe with a 20-foot-tall Xenomorph, it’s more than enough to enable workers to do their tasks more easily without getting as tired. This includes providing support and elevation for overhead tasks like screwing bolts into a vehicle’s brace.
Ford conducted pilot testing for the EksoVest at Michigan Assembly Plant and Flat Rock Assembly Plant over the last year, incorporating feedback for its rollout to 13 additional plants in seven countries, including Asia Pacific, Europe, and South America. All of Ford’s North American assembly plants use EksoVests.
“I don’t want the EksoVest to ever leave,” said Nick Gotts of Flat Rock Assembly. “Any job that’s overhead, I wouldn’t work without it.”
Today: making manual labor easier. Tomorrow: fighting aliens and saving little girls named Newt.