Ford motored the day announced details of its current manufacturing efforts around the construction of much-needed medical supplies for front-line health care workers and COVID-19 patients,media reported. Its work includes the construction of an electric air purification respirator (PAPR) with partner 3M, including a new design using existing parts from both partners to provide effective and highly scalable production capacity.
Ford said it would also rely on its 3D printing capabilities to build masks, which are expected to produce more than 100,000 units a week. These are key components of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by front-line medical personnel to protect them from viral droplets transmitted by coughing and sneezing in the clinical environment. The company has designed a new mask that will test the first 1,000 this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Center-Grace-Grace hospital to assess its efficacy. If the plan goes ahead, Ford expects to increase production to 75,000 by the end of the week, after which it will produce 100,000 a week at its production facility in Plymouth, Michigan.
The carmaker will also work with GM to streamline the production capacity of ge’s Healthcare ventilators for mass production. The company said it was in response to the U.S. government’s request to increase production to meet health care needs. In addition to its U.S.-focused ventilator program with GM, Ford is also working on another effort to expand ventilator production in the U.S. in response to the government’s assistance request. The company also shipped back 165,000 N95 protective masks from China, which the company says continues to improve as demand for such equipment grows in the U.S.
Over the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that U.S. automakers, including Ford, General Motors and Tesla, had been given the authority to “accelerate” the production of “ventilators and other metal products.”
“We have had preliminary discussions with the U.S. and U.K. governments and discussed the feasibility,” Rachel McCleery, a Ford spokeswoman, said in a statement to TechCrunch at the time. It is vital that all of us work together to help the country through this crisis and to be stronger than ever. “
Based on this update, Ford does seem to be moving quickly to assess its contribution and capabilities. The company will consider using its own and partner facilities to produce the much-needed medical equipment, and will use existing parts and equipment to increase production capacity and production, the company said at a news conference on Tuesday.
For example, the PAPR for Ford, which is being built, will use off-the-shelf components of the cooling seats of the automaker’s F-150 truck and the 3M’s existing HEPA filters. These respirators have the potential advantage of using the N95 because they are battery-powered and can filter airborne virus particles for up to 8 hours in a single interchangeable standard power tool battery pack worn around the waist. When asked about production schedules and production capacity, Mike Kesti, 3M’s global technical director, said they were still working on how Ford would complement existing PAPR production before producing the new version.
” (Ford) is helping us expand the capacity of our existing divisions,” Kest said. “As a result, the impact will be extended to our existing capacity in the next few days and weeks.” However, we also work closely with them to take full advantage of The components and 3M components provided by Ford, in particular filters that meet the requirements of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) regulations, and to try to integrate them into modified designs to meet the performance requirements of NIOSH regulations and scale up production scale as quickly as possible. “
Ford also helped 3M expand production of its existing N95 protective masks, Kest said.
Tom Westrick, GE’s vice president of healthcare and chief quality officer, said neither Ford nor GE had a timetable or an estimate of the production capacity of the new ventilators they were developing, but the team was “working hard to reach the release point.”
“We can’t provide specific timetables and figures related to the design and release of the new ventilators,” he said. Still, it’s obviously important for both us and Ford. “