Robotic Vests Assisting Assembly Line Workers at Ford


Ford's headquarters in Michigan, USA. / Photo by: Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons


Construction and manufacturing industrial settings are stressful and tiring for labor workers. The daily tasks consisting of heavy loads can eventually wear out employees. In order to ease their burdens, automobile company, Ford worked with Eksobionics to apply exoskeleton robotics so the workers can do their job effectively and safely.

In the factory floors of Ford, workers are equipped with exoskeletons developed by Eksobionics to improve the efficiency of the assembly line. The robots help employees accomplish their tasks easily and quickly with the reduced risk of injury caused by body strain.

The model they used is the Eksovest which is intended to decrease occupational injuries in certain industrial settings. The robotic vest is worn to elevate and support the arms. It assists users in performing tasks within the chest or overhead range. The device is lightweight and gives freedom of movement so that workers can use it in all conditions.

According to the technical specifications at Eksobionics, Eksovest has a weight of about 9.5 pounds and an adjustable lift assistance between 5 to 15 pounds. It supports a worker’s height range between 5 feet and 6.4 feet. Eksovest aims to provide increased stamina, improved health, and better performance of workers.

“In a 10-hour shift, our operators may reach overhead thousands of times to perform work underneath the vehicle. The EksoVest provides up to 15 pounds of assistance to each arm as they are lifted overhead,” said Marty Smets, technical expert of Humans Systems and Virtual Manufacturing at Ford.

While the overhead weight assistance seems small, the vest was able to relieve the pressure equivalent to the weight of 24 Mustang coupes per arm every day. The study at Ford that involves the Eksovest is still ongoing and is being monitored by the United Auto Workers Union to make sure the participants are safe.