Ford plans to build as many as 50,000 ventilators in 100 days to help treat COVID-19 patients.
With car manufacturing plants shutting down around the world, automakers are using their resources to help save lives during the coronavirus pandemic by building medical equipment. Ford, for example, is collaborating with GE Healthcare to produce a third-party ventilator in Michigan. After announcing the collaboration last week, Ford is now working around the clock to produce as many as 50,000 ventilators within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month after if required.
Ford's manufacturing capabilities will help scale production to help meet growing demand in the US, while GE Healthcare will provide its clinical expertise and will license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp. The GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator produced by Ford operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, which will meet the needs of most Covid-19 patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing.
"The Ford and GE Healthcare teams, working creatively and tirelessly, have found a way to produce this vitally needed ventilator quickly and in meaningful numbers," said Jim Hackett, Ford's president and CEO. "By producing this ventilator in Michigan, in strong partnership with the UAW, we can help health care workers save lives, and that's our No. 1 priority."
Ford will initially work with Airon to boost production in Florida before starting production at the Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, by the week of April 24. Ford expects to produce 1,500 ventilators by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May and 50,000 by July 4, helping the US government achieve its goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. 500 paid United Auto Workers volunteers have been hired to help ramp up production and will work on three shifts.
Currently, Airon produces three Airon pNeuton Model A ventilators per day, but Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week at full production.
"We applaud Ford for its efforts to lend its manufacturing capabilities to help quickly scale the Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator and arm clinicians in the fight against Covid-19," said GE Healthcare President and CEO Kieran Murphy. "Our deep understanding of the health care industry with Ford's supply chain and production expertise will help meet the unprecedented demand for medical equipment. We continue to be encouraged by how quickly companies are coming together in innovative ways to address this collective challenge."
Ford was originally planning to reopen several production plants on April 14 including the Kentucky Truck Plant that builds the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator and Kansas City where the popular Ford F-150 is produced, but this could change.