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Ford equips factory workers with exoskeletons

16/02/2018
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Visit the assembly line of Ford’s manufacturing plant in Valencia, Spain and you’ll be presented with a scene reminiscent of an Iron Man film.

As part of efforts to improve the endurance and moral of employees, Ford is equipping them with exoskeletons.

At present 100 workers at the Valencia plant are using the exoskeleton suits- which provide support for the wearer’s shoulders and back, shifting the weight to the hips, thus reducing the occurrence of workplace injuries.
At present 100 workers at the Valencia plant are using the exoskeleton suits.
(Image via Ford).

“My job can be like a workout at the gym and you really need to be fit to tackle some of the tasks. The exoskeleton suit makes a big difference and at the end of a shift I feel much fresher,” said assembly worker Ramon Navarrete, who helps fit vehicle interiors.

During the initial exoskeleton trial programme and suit development, production managers asked for input from around 200 workers in the plant to highlight how they thought an exoskeleton would benefit their work. Then, 100 employees were chosen as those who would benefit most from the technology and who worked closely with device designers. Those who use the suit manoeuvre heavy or awkward items such as fuel tanks. The programme has proved so successful that 20 more employees will trial the equipment, beginning April.
The exoskeleton pilot falls under a broader re-examination that Ford is undertaking of standard industry practices in testing, production, and even sales.
(Image via Ford).

“Working on an assembly line requires knowledge, skill and can be physically challenging. Exoskeleton suits might look like something out of sci-fi but they really can help to reduce stress for our employees and make physically demanding tasks easier,” said Dale Wishnousky, vice president, Manufacturing, Ford of Europe.

The exoskeleton pilot falls under a broader re-examination that Ford is undertaking of standard industry practices in testing, production, and even sales.

With an ageing population in Europe (and the West more broadly) and a well reported skills gap emerging across multiple engineering and technical industries, could exoskeletons and other forms of wearable tech help older workers stay in the workplace for longer?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Tags: Automotive
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Ford equips factory workers with exoskeletons - Time to read 2 min
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