Certain Ford employees do these tasks up to 4,600 times per day and up to a million times per year, the automaker noted in a press release. The non-powered EksoVest, designed by Ekso Bionics in partnership with Ford, helps lift five to fifteen pounds, easing the strain on users' upper bodies and preventing some fatigue. That assistance could help prevent workplace accidents resulting from tired muscles and minds. The EksoVest fits employees from 5-feet to 6-feet 4-inches tall and is designed for anyone in load-bearing work, from factories to construction sites to distribution centers.
"Collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers," said Russ Angold, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ekso Bionics, in Ford's press release. "The end result is a wearable tool that reduces the strain on a worker's body, reducing the likelihood of injury, and helping them feel better at the end of the day – increasing both productivity and morale."
Ford is currently testing the EksoVest in two US factories with plans to expand the pilot program to European and South American sites. The United Automobile Workers lent their support to the concept.