“We were the arsenal of democracy during two world wars,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford said on the “Today Show,” announcing the initiatives. “We built iron lungs for polio patients. Whenever we’re called on, we’re there.”
Ford is partnering with manufacturing company 3M to build air-purifying respirators on two fronts. It will aid 3M in boosting production of respirator designs 3M is already producing, while simultaneously building its own respirators using a makeshift design that includes fans from F-150 pickup seats, hoods from assembly plant paint shops, 3D-printed parts and portable tool battery packs that could allow the devices to run for up to eight hours.
Ford said it initially would be able to make up to 1,000 respirators per month, helping 3M boost production of them tenfold. Officials on a conference call said they’re working to begin production in a matter of days or weeks.
In addition, Ford plans to produce up to 100,000 face shields per week, also in Michigan. 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 and Manufacturing’s facilities in Plymouth, Mich.
Ford also is partnering with GE Healthcare to expand production of a simplified version of GE’s ventilator design. Ford said the ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett, speaking on “CBS This Morning,” said the automaker was targeting “hundreds of thousands” of ventilators and would ramp up production between now and June.
Hackett said teams planned to work together in smaller groups to sub-assemble parts that would then be joined together. Executives on Friday declined to say what assembly plants Ford could utilize, although Jim Baumbick, vice president of Ford’s Enterprise Product Line Management team, said the company had “a range of options.”
It was unclear how Ford would utilize its UAW work force in the effort; a spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, Gerald Kariem, vice president of the UAW-Ford department, said: “UAW Ford members have a history of working together for the good of our nation. We look forward to collaborating with Ford so that once again UAW members can find ways to improve the health and safety of all Americans during this national emergency.”
The automaker said Tuesday it’s committed sending Henry Ford Health Systems in Michigan 40,000 surgical masks while it locates additional supplies.
“This is such a critical time for America and the world,” Ford said in a statement. “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. 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 joins General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Tesla, which have also announced plans to build medical equipment in the U.S. Ford also is working on another initiative in the U.K. with a number of companies in Europe to produce additional ventilators, it said Tuesday.
Baumbick said Ford was talking with GM to coordinate efforts around producing medical equipment so they’re having the highest possible impact.
“That dialogue is open and that cross-sharing is happening so the cumulative effort is being felt and they’re not working cross purposes,” he said.
Officials said they’re in contact with government agencies so that, once produced, the products would be distributed to hospitals and other areas of need throughout the country. Executives from 3M and GE said they were utilizing the Emergency Use Authorization Act to get products approved and out to market quickly.
Source: Automotive News