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Working World in Transition

Ford is optimizing its production processes with motion tracking

Take it easy! Motion tracking is being introduced to analyze and optimize fast movement processes. Ford is bringing the technology into its factory hall in a pilot project – and is thereby improving work processes for its employees.

14 Aug. 2018
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Ford is optimizing its production processes with motion tracking (Photo: YouTube/Ford Europe)

Motion tracking, often also referred to as body tracking or motion capture , is already being used in other industries: athletes use it, for example, to become even more efficient or faster. In the film and games industries, movements are reproduced with this technology on the screen or monitor that are as close to reality as possible. The automobile manufacturer Ford has now been trialing body tracking for about a year with 70 employees in its Spanish engine factory in Valencia . The employees wore a special suit equipped with 15 motion sensors in a total of 21 work areas. These, in turn, were connected to a wireless detection unit.

During the project phase, the system collected a large amount of data, as four motion tracking cameras recorded the movements. As a result, it was possible to transfer the employees’ movements while working to a 3D skeleton model. Experts in ergonomics then derived recommendations from this to improve the employees’ posture. Ford is already considering extending the project to other European sites.

The technology is also used in robotics, among other areas. At the Hanover Trade Fair 2018 , for example, Festo presented the BionicFlyingFox : the robot imitates the movement of the flying fox. To allow it to move semi-autonomously, a motion tracking system permanently records its current position with cameras.