Ford has given a dramatic effort to help the fight against Coronavirus. Last week, Ford began production of face shields at their Redford, Michigan plant. They also revealed design sketches for their respirator, made in collaboration with 3M. The respirators will also use Ford F-150 ventilated seat blowers to speed up production by using off the shelf parts. Meanwhile, Ford will make room at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan to make the respirators. Flat Rock is where the mighty Ford Mustang is currently built.
Ford is asking factory workers to volunteer their time in order to produce the respirators. Ford shut down FRAP along with its other factories in response to the COVID19 outbreak.
According to the UAW Local 3000 Facebook page, Flat Rock employees received a call on March 31, saying they had 24 hours to respond if they wanted to volunteer. The message they received is on the Facebook page. The memo lists three crews running 10 hour shifts with a 30 minute break. Volunteers that respond will get their choice of shift, but seniority will determine who gets what. It’s unclear if Ford is paying workers for this, but production should begin April 6.
“Your interest is critical to the success of this project, so please only respond if you are prepared to assist. We do not have much time to plan, so responding that you are ready will be considered firm,” said the memo on the UAW Facebook page.
If the plant workers that produce the Ford Mustang didn’t already feel a sense of national pride building an American automotive icon, they definitely will now. The country is in desperate need of respirators and other medical supplies. Even Michigan itself is one of the most affected states in the country, with the fourth highest amount of confirmed cases, going back and forth with California, and ahead of high-population states like Texas, Illinois and Florida.
Aid from Ford, GM, and FCA is helping combat these shortages, though. Both U.S. auto giants are already producing masks, at rates of close to 100,000 per week. GM will produce ventilators for patients, while Ford will make respirators for front line medical staff. The pandemic is far from over, but efforts from automakers will help make it easier. Check out Ford’s respirator design below.