Ford has announced they will be working with GE Healthcare and 3M to manufacturer respirators, ventilators, and face shields to cover the shortage in the treatment of Coronavirus patients.
Ford is going to work with 3M to manufacture powered air-purifying respirators known as PAPRs, using certain designs from both companies. GE will also be working with GE Healthcare to expand the production of a more simplified version of its ventilator. Along with the UAW auto workers union, Ford will assemble more than 100,000 plastic face shields at one of the manufacturing sites to aid healthcare workers, factory workers, and store clerks. The company will also use its 3D printing abilities to produce disposable respirators for healthcare workers.
According to Ford’s vice president, this is in response to the increase and demand for first responders as well as for others.
Ford has been working along with 3M with a goal to increase the production of PAPRs using 3M’s designs and possibly creating a new design. The new design could include off-the-shelf parts such as Ford’s F-150 cooled seats for airflow or portable battery packs that could power the respirators up to 8 hours.
Medical parts designers might look to auto parts in an emergency, they offer many similarities. These components have airflow capabilities to support their device. Due to the increase in COVID-19, and the increase in protective equipment has inspired Ford to get a little scrappy. While more attention has been concentrated on the shortage of N95 masks, the PAPRs might offer an alternative form of protection.
GE Healthcare and Ford are working to produce a simplified version of GE’s ventilators to support COVID-19 patients who have respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. These ventilators can be produced at a Ford plant as well as at a GE facility. The concept is to create a new design to address COVID-19. Speaking with GE Healthcare vice president, he declined to say how many ventilators the company will be able to produce or how long it will take to produce.
Ford’s team is working feverishly to set a release time and is also starting to test transparent full-face shields for medical workers and first responders. These shields offer protection from Coronavirus by preventing the face from coming in contact with liquids and can be paired with the N95 mask. Face shields are being tested throughout their many facilities including Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems, and Detroit Medial Sinai-Grace Hospitals. Ford expects to produce 75,000 shields over the first week of production and at the manufacturing facility in Plymouth, Michigan.
Ford said they have been in constant contact with federal, state, and local officials to address the areas in the greatest need. While 3D printing can offer an increase in helping to solve shortages of medical supplies, it is not so simple to just crank up mass production. 3M’s view is 3D printing for PPE, or personal protective equipment, but does not provide the scale they are looking for.
3M is producing almost 100 million each month, globally, including over 35 million per month in the U.S. 3M produces these masks domestically in their Aberdeen, South Dakota plant. 3M id doing all they can for these very trying times and getting supplies to where they are needed and will do the most good.
Other automakers are chipping in to produce needed medical supplies while General Motors announced they are working with Ventec Life Systems to increase the production of ventilators for hospital patients. Ford said they are talking with GM to increase their efforts to increase the production of needed equipment and not working at purposes that are contrary.
Recently automakers have temporarily shut down the production of cars and trucks at the U.S. facilities while trying to deal with the Coronavirus. To date, more than 43,000 people in the U.S have become ill with COVID-19 and sadly more than 500 have died.
Our hats go off to the many corporations that have come to the plate to help people who are ill from the Coronavirus and to protect the millions of others who might need help tomorrow or the coming days. For all those in the media who can only find fault in Corporate America, I have to ask what they have to contribute? I’m afraid they have offered nothing but complaints.