Like GM, Ford is stepping up to help in the fight against the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
Ford has stopped its promotional press announcements as of late and gone quiet. Today, our press contact reached out to give us a full overview of what Ford has been up to over the past week. Out of respect for the workers who will actually be doing the work, please note that when we mention “Ford,” we are also including the United Auto Workers who will be manning the machines.
Ford has joined forces with 3M, GE Healthcare, and others. Ford is lending its impressive manufacturing and engineering expertise to quickly expand the production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders, and patients fighting coronavirus.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Ford presently plans to assemble more than 100,000 face shields per week. The company will also leverage its in-house 3D printing capability to produce disposable respirators for healthcare workers.
“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.”
Ford released images showing conceptual sketches of powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) designs it hopes to make. To move as fast as possible, the Ford and 3M teams have been identifying off-the-shelf parts like fans from the Ford F-150’s cooled seats for airflow. Added to these might be 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 is looking at how it might produce these new-generation PAPRs in one of its Michigan manufacturing facilities, hoping to boost 3M’s production by as much as tenfold.
“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.”
Ford is also partnering with GE Healthcare to begin work on ventilators. The plan is to ramp up the 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.
“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.”
Work on this initiative ties to a direct request for help from U.S. government officials.
Grand plans for later are important, but what has Ford done right now? Here’s a punch list of the company’s contribution to the global war on COVID-19:
-Ford of China’s joint venture partner Jiangling Motors already donated 10 specially equipped Transit ambulance vans to hospitals in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began.
-The first 1,000 face shields will be tested this week at Detroit hospitals.
-Ford says roughly 75,000 of these shields are expected to be finished this week and more than 100,000 face shields per week will be produced at Ford subsidiary Troy Design.
– 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.
-Ford has also kicked off a working team to help hospitals locate and secure urgently needed surgical and N95 respirators. Ford has so far committed sending Henry Ford Health Systems 40,000 surgical masks while it locates additional supplies.
-Ford is leveraging its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Mich., and in-house 3D printing capabilities to manufacture disposable respirators, which are needed to help filter the air healthcare workers and first responders breathe. Once approved by the proper health agency, Ford will initially start at a pace equal to 1,000 per month but will quickly grow production as fast as possible.