Ford has started trialling an exoskeleton that supports assembly line workers to lift their arms above their heads.
While perhaps not as glamorous as suits that help people walk or lift inhuman weights, the EksoVest — which provides its wearer with 5 to 15 pounds of lift assistance per arm — has the potential prevent injuries and improve the quality of life for workers.
Employees working on some parts of Ford’s assembly line perform tasks that involve lifting their hands over their heads — sometimes with heavy components or tools — 4,600 times a day, or about 1m times a year. These repetitive tasks, done over an extended period of time, can cause both fatigue and injury.
Ford says the device, which is unpowered and uses springs to provide support, is comfortable, not bulky and allows workers to move their arms freely. Factory workers who have used the vest have said they feel less sore at the end of their shifts and have more energy at the end of the day.
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