Major Takeaways:

  • Ford Motor Company is using NVIS headsets to visualize 3D computer-aided design models, to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders for its employees.
  • Immersive VR helps create realistic work cell layouts, to better prevent employee injury; since using VR models, Ford has reduced employee injury by 70%, and reduced ergonomic issues of assembly and maintenance by 90%.

From the article

For the past 10 years, during which Ford has designed more than 100 new vehicles, the company has been using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models to not only assess the ergonomic and aerodynamic nature of new vehicles, but to study how easy they would be for its 50,000 production employees to assemble.

These assembly assessments are conducted throughout the design process for each new vehicle. Assessments often comprise virtual reality models of the cars, full-body motion capture of employees and 3D printing of individual components.

“They are designing out the human-repetitive movements,” observes Skeldon.

Many of the virtual assembly task assessments are conducted via virtual reality. Since cars are now designed using various forms of 3D CAD software, it is comparatively simple to convert them into the appropriate file format for virtual reality engines. In this case, Ford uses headsets by NVis to visualise the models…

…Since Ford began using the system 10 years ago – working on more than 100 new vehicles, including the 2015 Ford Mustang and 2016 Ford Explorer – it has reduced employee injury by 70%. The manufacturer has also managed to reduce ergonomic issues of assembly and maintenance by 90%.

Preventing musculoskeletal injuries is more about cost avoidance than cost saving. However, when an employee injures themselves at work it can be costly to a company in terms of manpower hours lost and possible insurance claims.

“Our statistics show that we’ve reduced the number of days away due to ergonomic concerns by 75% in our assembly plants,” says Smets. Not only does this make Ford a more productive company and a better employer, but this forward-thinking approach to safety has to be good for employee morale…

Check out Computer Weekly for the full article.