For those of us consuming Coronavirus information updates every 30 seconds, it’s hard to keep up, let alone decipher what it all means. To inspire our readers, Detroitisit is taking an informative stance to help keep you best aware of what’s going on, and what steps can help make the COVID-19 that much smoother for us.
One challenge is most apparent in the medical field at the moment that there is a dangerous shortage of crucial medical supplies such as masks, gloves, respirators, and seems like most importantly, ventilators, needed to assist those suffering from COVID-19/Coronavirus. As the country and it’s leadership continue to struggle with how to handle the health crisis, Ford Motor Company announced that it’s working with 3M and GE Healthcare to produce a new Powered Air-Purifying Respirator [PAPR ] for healthcare workers to utilize, while also helping to increase the production of 3M’s current respirators being used in hospitals.
“This is such a critical time for America and the world. It is 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 Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman in a press release put out by the company. “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.”
THE PRODUCTION OF RESPIRATORS
As a part of their drive to bring aid to the medical community, Ford will be working with 3M to manufacture PAPR’s, which are of a new design and will utilize parts from both companies to create the respirators. Ford is exploring ways they can start the production of the new PAPR at Ford facilities, and in the meantime, production will continue at existing 3M production sites.
“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 Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer. “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.”
To speed up production, Ford’s teams, as well as 3M teams, have been resourcefully locating already existing parts in the production of respirators. At the moment, they have begun using components such as the fan from the Ford F-150’s cooled seats for airflow in the respirators, existing 3M HEPA air filters to filter airborne contaminants such as water droplets that can carry virus particles and portable tool battery packs to that will help to power respirators for up to eight hours at a time.
THE PRODUCTION OF VENTILATORS
The company will also devote efforts to work with GE Healthcare to manufacture a “simplified version” of GE’s much needed existing ventilator design used to assist those with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing caused by COVID-19. The plan to begin contributing to the manufacturing of ventilators comes after the federal government requested assistance in meeting the ever-increasing demand for the equipment.
“We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19,” shared GE Healthcare President & CEO Kieran Murph. “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.”
While according to Ford’s press release, nothing is yet confirmed, production of ventilators could start soon at existing Ford facilities, as well as existing GE plants.
FORD’S PRODUCTION OF FACEMASKS
Ford has also already begun to manufacture and test transparent full-face shields for use by medical workers and first responders working with those suffering from COVID-19, and the first 1,000 face shields are expected to begin testing this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospitals. Ford’s face shields will adequately protect the eyes and face from accidental contact with liquids and can also be paired with N95 respirators to be more effective in limiting exposure to COVID-19 than solely wearing an N95 Mask.
This isn’t Ford’s first medical aid project during this global virus outbreak. During the initial phases of the Coronavirus outbreak in China, Ford of China’s joint venture partner Jiangling Motors donated ten specially equipped Transit ambulance vans to hospitals in Wuhan and the automaker is expected to require around 165,000 N95 respirators from the country for use in the United States.
To meet the demand for masks, Ford is leveraging its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Mich., as well as it’s in-house 3D printing capabilities to produce disposable respirators for use in hospitals. Once approved after testing at the previously mentioned Detroit health agencies, the automaker will start at a pace of about 1,000 masks per month, and move forward from there.
Ford is also working on a separate venture with the U.K. government to produce additional ventilators.
As further news around the COVID-19/Coronavirus crisis breaks, updates will be provided accordingly.