Ford has begun accepting orders for ventilators, and the fast-designed personal protective equipment will be sent to hospitals and other medical facilities to protect workers from the new coronavirus,media slash Gear reported. The carmaker switched its idle plant and nearly a hundred workers to the construction of a powered air-purion respirator (PAPR) back in April and says it has since produced 10,000 units.
PAPR is designed to isolate potentially dangerous contaminants such as THE COVID-19 virus that is transmitted by health care workers and body fluids. They consist of hoods and masks, as well as HEPA filtration systems, designed to provide the wearer with clean air. Ford has been working with 3M, which already has its own PAPR. The difference here, however, is that Ford’s version needs to bypass the traditional medical device supply chain as much as possible, because shortages are a bottleneck. Instead, it uses more familiar off-the-shelf parts in its vehicles to meet demand.
As a result, its ventilator system is similar to the design of the airy seats on the Ford F-150 truck. Rechargeable batteries originally used for power tools keep the HEPA filtration system running for up to 8 hours. Developed by Stanley Black and Decker, it uses custom harnesses with standard 3.0Ah and 5.0Ah batteries so that it can be switched out at any time to keep the PAPR running in long shifts.
In all, more than a dozen companies in the automotive supply chain have provided NEW off-the-shelf components for PAPR, Ford said. This includes the top of the hood — designed with the advice of the car decoration team – as well as the various controls and electronic components involved. Now, with 10,000 units manufactured and 100,000 units in production capacity, Ford says the carmaker is accepting orders. A new Ford PPE demand website has been set up for organizations to register.
They need to be hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities or first responders, or PPE donors or similar institutions to be eligible. Ford also does nuns work in one or two units: it will deliver PAPR as a pallet. In addition, 3M will sell and distribute through its own network and will be responsible for technical support.
The devices will come at a price, but Ford says profits other than production costs will go to non-profit organizations related to COVID-19. The first PAPRs have been delivered to Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.