Ford introduces endurance-increasing vests for assembly line workers

- Ford Motor Company has released new technology to help assembly line workers deal with the physical toll of the job.

It's called an EksoVest.

"We're not increasing the strength or capability of the operator with the EksoVests, rather we're increasing their endurance, particularly in the shoulder," said Marty Smets, a Ford Ergonomics engineer.

It's mechanical, patented technology invented by a California-based company called Ekso Bionics.

"It's powered from this sort of artificial shoulder that tracks with your real shoulder and then based on the angle you’re at it’s going to engage and you can feel it start providing torque, which removes the demand from your shoulder and it’s absorbed into the frame of the device itself," Smets said.

Ford says the vests lessen the chances of on the job injuries.

Paul Collins has been wearing one on the assembly line at Ford's Michigan assembly plant in Wayne for 6 months.

"Just the assist of it helping me hold my arms up and the assist of helping me hold my head back all day long, because you're doing this 10 hours a day every day," he said.

Each vest weighs 8 pounds and costs $6,000.

"I'm not Icy Hot-ing my neck three times a week anymore," he said.

Collins says the allowing him to have a better quality of life.

"When I'm wearing the vest I don't go home and plop on the couch anymore. I have more energy to play with my grandchildren. I have more energy to get things done around the house," he said.

Right now Ford is testing 4 of them. The goal is to purchase enough for all of the auto workers who perform overhead tasks.

"In my opinion whatever cost Ford may incur to put these on the assembly process, the benefits far outweigh," Collins said.

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