It seems that as the days and weeks pass, more and more carmakers are stepping up to help in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak. Ford Motor Company has announced that it is teaming up with 3M and GE Healthcare to expand the two companies’ production of medical equipment and supplies.
Ford is planning to produce 100,000 face shields weekly. The American carmaker said that its design team is in the process of developing and testing transparent full-face shields for frontline workers. These shields will be used with N95 respirators to prevent accidental contact with liquids and limit exposure to the virus. In addition, it plans to use its in-house 3D printing equipment at its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan to produce parts for use in personal protective equipment (PPE).
“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 Ford executive chairman Bill Ford. “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 aims to amp up 3M’s manufacturing capacity to produce more powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR). The two companies are also working together to create a new respirator design that can utilize parts from both Ford and 3M in order to produce more units and meet the increasing demand from healthcare workers and first responders.
“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 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer Mike Roman. “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.”
GE Healthcare, on the other hand, will be able to expand production of a simplified version of its existing ventilator design with the help of Ford. These ventilators will support patients with respiratory problems caused by COVID-19 and can be produced at both GE and Ford facilities.
“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 and 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.”
“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 Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett. “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.”
Another automotive company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), recently announced that it will produce over one million protective face masks per month as part of its efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. These initiatives come at a point where medical personnel and government units the world over are in dire need of all the help they can get.