Ford Helps Make Medical Devices From F-150 Parts
During this extraordinary time, the nation needs to pull together. While Ford announced factory closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak, that doesn’t mean many are not working. In fact, following requests from our nation’s leaders, Ford is partnering with 3M and GE Healthcare to make all-important medical devices.
Ford is the first auto manufacturer to “cross the aisle” and join forces to help other manufacturers make supplies needed to meet urgent demand for first responders, patients and health care workers. Tesla has stepped up already to provide respirators. Likewise FCA has stepped up to provide support for COVD-19.
“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,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “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.”
Powered Air-Purifying Respirators
Ford team members are working with 3M to increase the manufacturing capacity of their powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) designs and working jointly to develop a new design leveraging parts from both companies to meet the surge demand for first responders and health care workers. This new respirator could be produced in a Ford facility by UAW workers.
To go as fast as possible, the Ford and 3M teams have been resourcefully locating off-the-shelf parts like fans from the Ford F-150’s cooled seats for airflow, 3M HEPA air filters to filter airborne contaminants such as droplets that carry virus particles and portable tool battery packs to power these respirators for up to eight hours.
Ford is looking at how it might produce these new-generation PAPRs in one of its Michigan manufacturing facilities, helping 3M boost production potentially tenfold.
“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.”
“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.”
Turning F-150 Parts Into Ventilators and Face Masks
Ford and GE Healthcare are working together to expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. As part of this cooperation, Ford workers will assemble more than 100,000 critically needed plastic face shields per week at a Ford manufacturing site to help medical professionals, factory workers and store clerks. Some of the ventilator parts are coming from fans used from cooled seats of Ford F-150 trucks.
Additionally, Ford also will leverage its in-house 3D printing capability to produce components for use in personal protective equipment.
“We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19,” said GE Healthcare President & CEO Kieran Murphy. “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.”
Meanwhile, Ford’s U.S. design team also is quickly creating and starting to test transparent full-face shields for medical workers and first responders. The face shields fully block the face and eyes from accidental contact with liquids and when paired with N95 respirators can be a more effective way to limit potential exposure to coronavirus than N95 respirators alone.
The first 1,000 face shields will be tested this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospitals. 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, Michigan.
My colleague Mary Conway reported on efforts that General Motors is doing as well to help medical manufacturers during this time of need. We truly are in an extraordinary time. One that requires us to band together. Even as many people struggle dealing with fall out from this outbreak and living in a Corona economy, it’s fantastic to see a company like Ford, who has been decimated by this outbreak, step up and help those in need.
Being a good partner in the community goes a long way in the minds of consumers. And certainly, Ford will get some good karma coming back their way for doing the right thing. Ford already announced a very compassionate plan to help buyers who might be struggling financially right now.
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Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. In addition to being a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, Jimmy is also author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, and Twitter.