BMW Workers Get Superheroic With New Exoskeletons
“I used to think we really could use an Iron Man suit. And when I saw exoskeletons on a TED Talk, I got management approval to start a pilot program.” That’s a quote from Frank Pochiro, assembly planner at BMW’s Spartanburg assembly plant. This plant, located in South Carolina, is responsible for building BMW X3 and BMW X4 models. It’s also the home of a pilot program where 30 employees so far have started using an “ekso vest” to help with their jobs on the assembly line. These wearable exoskeleton vests provide ergonomic upper body and arm support. This support makes ordinarily heavy objects feel just about weightless, providing a huge boost to workers on the assembly line. The vests are designed to increase health and safety, while decreasing fatigue.
Richard Morris, vice president of project integration for BMW Manufacturing Co., is a big fan of the pilot program, saying “I see endless potential for helping with employee fatigue. I would expect to see this technology used at other facilities.” Workers are loving the program too, with those who have tried the ekso vest not wanting to go back to working without it. As journalists watched, a worker bolted underbody panels and heat shields on vehicles rolling down the line, using the vest to support his arms and back as he did so. By decreasing worker fatigue during tasks such as this and increasing job satisfaction, the BMW brand will likely gain a competitive edge as well stemming from an increase in productivity.
The piloting of these ekso vests is proof that the BMW brand’s drive to stay on the cutting edge extends far beyond their vehicles, encompassing the engineering and assembly responsible for bringing those vehicles to market. That forward-thinking drive is part of why we’re so excited to be part of the BMW family here at Bill Jacobs BMW. We encourage you to come in and learn more about the pre-owned BMW inventory and the extraordinary BMW service available here at our dealership near Chicago, IL.