Technology typically used by the world’s top athletes to improve their performance, or to ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on one of our assembly lines.
Employees at our engine assembly plant in Spain are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created with the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas.
“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said production area manager Javier Gisbert. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”
Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.
The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.
Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees.
We are now considering further rollout to our other European manufacturing facilities as part of our aim to reduce the injury rate for employees worldwide through the introduction of ergonomics technologies and data-driven process changes.