In recent weeks the U.S. health care system has been under incredible stress due to the coronavirus pandemic — fortunately several American corporations have stepped up to the plate to help fill the demand for much needed medical supplies and equipment. Ford is working with 3M to manufacture at scale Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) with both companies collaborating on the new design leveraging parts from both Ford and 3M to meet the demand for first responders and health care workers. This new respirator could be produced in a Ford facility by UAW workers.
Ford and GE Healthcare are also working together to expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. These efforts are in cooperation with the UAW (United Auto Workers), who are also anticipated to assemble over 100,000 critically needed plastic face shields PER WEEK at a Ford manufacturing site to help medical professionals, factory workers and store clerks. Ford is also leveraging their in-house 3D printing capability to produce components for use in personal protective equipment
“This is such a critical time for America and the world. It is a time for action and cooperation. By coming together across multiple industries, we can make a real difference for people in need and for those on the front lines of this crisis,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “At Ford, we feel a deep obligation to step up and contribute in times of need, just as we always have through the 117-year history of our company.”
To help further expedite production, the Ford and 3M teams are fully utilizing their resources by using parts, such as fans from the Ford F-150’s cooled seats for airflow, 3M HEPA air filters to filter airborne contaminants (such as droplets that carry virus particles) and portable tool battery packs to power these respirators for up to eight hours. Ford believes they can help 3M boost production (potentially tenfold) by building these new-generation PAPRs in one of its Michigan manufacturing facilities.
“Working with 3M and GE, we have empowered our teams of engineers and designers to be scrappy and creative to quickly help scale up production of this vital equipment,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO. “We’ve been in regular dialogue with federal, state and local officials to understand the areas of greatest needs. We are focusing our efforts to help increase the supply of respirators, face shields and ventilators that can help assist health care workers, first responders, critical workers as well as those who have been infected by the virus.”
“We’re exploring all available opportunities to further expand 3M’s capacity and get healthcare supplies as quickly as possible to where they’re needed most – which includes partnering with other great companies like Ford,” said Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer. “It’s crucial that we mobilize all resources to protect lives and defeat this disease, and I’m incredibly grateful to Ford and their employees for this partnership.”
This is HUGE! It’s great to see companies coming together for the greater good. In addition to the ways they are already collaborating, Ford and GE Healthcare are working together to expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing caused by COVID-19. These ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.
“We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19,” said GE Healthcare President & CEO Kieran Murphy. “We are proud to bring our clinical and technical expertise to this collaboration with Ford, working together to serve unprecedented demand for this life-saving technology and urgently support customers as they meet patient needs.”
In recent weeks we’ve all heard about the shortage of face masks for medical professionals. The Ford U.S. design team is also stepping up to create and test transparent full-face shields for medical workers and first responders. The face shields fully block the face and eyes from accidental contact with liquids. When paired with N95 respirators, these shields can be an even more effective way to limit potential exposure to coronavirus.
Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospitals are already testing the first 1,000 face shields this week. Some 75,000 shields are projected to be available this week, with another 100,000 face shields per week set for production at Ford subsidiary Troy Design and Manufacturing’s facilities in Plymouth, Mich. Ford is also using their Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Mich., which has existing in-house 3D printing capabilities to help manufacture components and subassemblies for use in personal protective equipment.
Ford’s efforts are also extending beyond the U.S. borders, as the company is currently evaluating efforts with the U.K. government, not involving GE Healthcare, to produce additional ventilators.In China, Ford of China joint venture partner Jiangling Motors has donated 10 specially equipped Transit ambulance vans to hospitals in Wuhan. Ford is also reacquiring 165,000 N95 respirators from China that were originally sent by Ford to China earlier this year to help combat coronavirus.
Great news right? Glad they’re doing what they can.