Ergonomic technology used in sports improves manufacturing

Automotive company, Ford has employed a body tracking technology, similar to that used by sports stars, to enhance the assembly line.

The body-tracking technology records movement via four specialised motion-tracking cameras that capture a 3D skeletal character animation of the user - image courtesy of Ford.
The body tracking technology records movement via four specialised motion-tracking cameras that capture a 3D skeletal character animation of the user – image courtesy of Ford.

Plant employees at Ford Valencia Engine Assembly, have been wearing a special suit with numerous sensors that monitor movement and help to promote good posture.

The technology is more typically used by sports coaches to ensure sports stars’ skills are maximised, and it is also used to replicate sports players movements in video games.

Created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, the project has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas across the company.

The suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors that are 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 that capture a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Ergonomic experts then use the data collected to help employees align their posture correctly. Specific measurements captured by the system, for example an employee’s height or limb length, are then used to design workstations, to better fit employees.

Four benefits of utilising ergonomic technology

Introducing ergonomic processes can contribute improved productivity, a higher quality product and more, to manufacturing companies. It is therefore essential to develop and implement solutions that improve safety and allow operations to run smoothly.

  1. Introducing ergonomic technology improves productivity. Workstations can become more efficient if production line jobs are designed to encourage employees to have a good posture, fewer motions and heights and reaches that are adapted to them.
  2. A higher quality product. Lack of ergonomic systems in a business can lead to frustrated workers whose equipment is not physically suited to them. If a task is too physically demanding, an employee may not perform their job as they were trained to do so, which could result in a product quality issue.
  3. Ergonomics can improve safety. Ergonomic technology can show a company is willing to commit and invest in safe practices, and the health of employees. The benefit of this is numerous to the health and safety culture of the workforce, and could result in improved performance.
  4. Better employee engagement. Providing the workforce with equipment that is designed for them can reduce turnover, decrease absenteeism, encourage positive morale and increase employee involvement, therefore optimising employees skills.