Ford uses body tracking technology to create personalised workstations for employees

Image credit: Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant

Car manufacturing organisation Ford is using advanced body tracking technology to ergonomically design personalised workstations for its auto-assembly line staff.

The technology, typically seen alongside games consoles, is being used at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant in Spain to help design less physically stressful workstations for manufacturing employees. This is part of a wider project, originally implemented in 2003, to reduce the injury rate for Ford’s worldwide employees using ergonomic technologies.

The body tracking technology, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecanica de Valencia, uses 15 movement-tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. This monitors how employees move at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. These movements are recorded by four motion-tracking cameras, which capture a 3D skeletal character animation of the individual.

This information, alongside measurements such as height or arm length, is used by trained ergonomists to help employees align their posture correctly and to design personalised workstations that better fit individual employees.

Javier Gisbert, production area manager at Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, said: “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. 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.”

To date, the technology has been used with 70 employees in 21 work areas. The organisation has 24 manufacturing plants in total, and is now considering rolling out the technology across its other European manufacturing facilities.