The bands vibrate when you get within six feet of someone else.
Ford is turning to technology in its attempt to safeguard workers from the coronavirus pandemic. The preemptive measure - Ford hasn't yet reopened its manufacturing plants - involves a small number of volunteers trialing a wristband that vibrates when they get within six feet of each other. According to the CDC, staying six feet away from other people is necessary for successful social distancing.
According to the Bloomberg report, the volunteers are testing the technology at one of Ford's factories in Plymouth, Michigan, where the likes of the Ford Ranger is built. Kelli Felker, a spokeswoman for Ford, explained that the wearable band is one of several safety measures that will be put in place by the automaker following the shutdown. Workers will also have to undergo a thermal-imaging scan before entering factories to detect high body temperature.
These safety protocols are being put into place in collaboration with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. "Ford and the UAW are working closely to identify different ways to keep our people safe while they are at work," explained Felker.
These safety measures are being tested at the same factories where Ford is producing ventilators in an effort to assist hospitals with the treatment of patients suffering from Covid-19. Although Ford hasn't yet set a specific date for when it will resume production, there is the possibility that this could happen in May after a shutdown that has lasted for well over a month.
While the wristbands are a novel idea, it remains to be seen whether they can prove effective within the confines of a production facility, where narrow hallways and other areas will make it difficult to keep one's distance from fellow employees. We can also imagine a constantly buzzing wristband being an annoyance for workers trying to complete their tasks.
Still, it's better than nothing, and should Ford resume operations next month, every safety measure that is practical should be introduced to minimize the risk of infection. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is also targeting a reopening of its facilities next month, with similar safety measures being put into place.
However, with the progression of the pandemic unknown in hard-hit North America, automobile manufacturers like Ford and FCA remain at the mercy of government restrictions.