© Ford General | March 25, 2020
Getting creative: Ford, 3M, GE, UAW unite to battle COVID
Ford Motor Company, 3M and GE Healthcare are brainstorming ways to engineer and manufacture medical equipment and supplies for front line healthcare workers and responders, as well as patients fighting coronavirus.
Ford said in a released statement that it will use its 3D printing capability to produce disposable respirators for healthcare workers. Other efforts include joint efforts to increase manufacturing capacity of 3M’s powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) designs and collaborating on a new design that takes advantage of parts from both companies. and potentially be produced in a Ford factory by UAW workers. To expedite the plan, Ford has turned to salvaging its own parts, such as fans from the Ford F-150’s cooled seats for airflow, and 3M will pull HEPA air filters to filter airborne contaminants such as droplets that carry virus particles and portable tool battery packs to power the newly created respirators for up to eight hours. The first 1,000 prototype face shields will be put to the test this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospitals, with another 75,000 expected to be produced 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. In a press release, Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford said, “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.” “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.” 3M CEO and Chairman of the Board Mike Roman said, “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. 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.” Additional assistance from Ford includes helping hospitals find and secure urgently needed surgical and N95 respirators. Ford has so far promised Henry Ford Health Systems the delivery of 40,000 surgical masks and help locating additional supplies. Ford’s efforts abroad include partnering in China with Jiangling Motors, which has donated 10 specially equipped transit ambulance vans to hospitals in Wuhan, the virus’s original epicenter. Ford is re-acquiring 165,000 N95 respirators from China that were originally sent by Ford to China earlier this year.