On Tuesday March 24, 2020, Ford announced that it is working with 3M and GE Healthcare to make medical equipment and protective gear for healthcare workers during the shortages to fight against coronavirus. Around the country, and even the world, healthcare workers have been concerned about the difficulty in receiving enough critical supplies such as masks, gloves and ventilators to deal with the suffering patients of the highly contagious coronavirus. Ford said it will work with 3M to produce a new kind of Powered Air-Purifying Respirator for healthcare workers, while also working to increase production of 3M’s current respirator device.
A PAPR is a clear mask that fits over the face and air is drawn in through a tube connected to a pump that filters the air. The PAPR will be made using parts from both 3M and Ford, the automaker said, including fans used in the Ford F-150’s optional ventilated seats (CNN Business). Ford is also working with companies to make batteries for power tools that will provide a desired eight hour operating life on a single charge.
Possible Michigan Production
Ford says it is exploring the possibility of producing the devices at one of its Michigan factories while 3M will also make respirators at its own factory. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a company announcement, “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. We’ve been in regular dialogue with federal, state and local officials to understand the areas of greatest needs.”
Ford also said it will work with the United Auto Workers Union to assemble clear plastic face shields to protect people from possibly infectious bodily fluids. The Ford-designed masks are being tested at Detroit-area hospitals. They can be used for healthcare workers along with store clerks and people still having to work with the public.
General Motors Productions
General Motors has also announced that it was going to work with Ventec Life Systems to help increase production of ventilators for hospital patients. Ventec has announced, “is now planning exponentially higher ventilator production as fast as possible.” Ford has been coordinating with GM to make sure that the efforts of the company don’t put a strain on any particular suppliers or other companies and hinder on increasing production.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has also tweeted that his company could make ventilators if needed. With the chaos going on in the world, it is nice to see companies and the world come together to help. Many other companies have announced their plans to helping produce much needed medical equipment.