Ford Motors has reportedly partnered with Ekso Bionics for their ‘EksoVest’ exoskeleton vests to help their workers lighten the loads exerted on their bodies while working on the assembly line. Sources claim that the exoskeleton vest will be introduced in 15 plants of the company, across 7 countries and is going to cost around $6,000 per piece.
As a matter of fact, exoskeletons are not new to the market, they date back to 1960’s when GE produced a huge prototype for the military that depicted commendable promise to help people with spinal injuries. Reportedly, Marty Smets, Ergonomics Expert at Ford, is concentrating on shoulder injuries which can cost more than $100,000 to fix & rehabilitate an employee.
EksoVest assists & supports a worker’s arm when it is elevated for overhead works, while also supporting the spine. Further, EksoVest can provide 5 to 15 pounds of assistance per arm, fitting a worker ranging from 5 feet 2 inches to 6 feet 4 inches.
Ford’s decision to introduce the exosuits to workers apparently stems from concerns regarding employee health and safety, especially with regards to repetitive lifting task. According to The Telegraph, Ford reported that some of their workers have to lift weights the equivalent of a flour bag over their heads close to a staggering 4,600 times per day.
As per trusted sources, worker reviews about the product seem to be highly positive. Several employees have reported experiencing higher levels of energy post using EksoVest as opposed to the strain experienced at the workplace prior to using the product.
EksoBionics’s shares rocketed 26 percent after Ford announced that it will be using the EksoVests in its 15 plants and in the next few months it will have 75 of them in plants worldwide. As per experts, exoskeleton market will grow to USD 1.8 billion by 2025, from its base valuation of USD 68 million in 2014.