The Arsenal of Health is in its early stages, and as in during World War II, the Detroit automakers are rolling their sleeves up, and using their expertise, infrastructure, and manpower to produce incredible amounts of medical equipment. Yesterday, we reported on the efforts taking place at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors. And today, Ford Motor Company has announced a sweeping collaboration with Minnesota-based 3M Technologies and Boston-based General Electric to produce a trio of necessary medical equipment for the healthcare sector to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. The combined age of the three American companies is 360 years old.
With 3M, Ford is looking to scale up the manufacturing of Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs). The two companies are working on a “new design” for this equipment, utilizing parts from both companies to meet the urgent demand in the healthcare industry. For its part, Ford is exploring production of the new PAPR in a Ford facility in addition to what 3M can produce. Creatively, off-the-shelf parts will be put to use. For example, fans from the ventilated seats of the Ford F-150, and 3M HEPA air filters will run on portable tool battery packs to power these respirators for up to eight hours.
At the same time, Ford and GE Healthcare are working together to expand production of a “simplified version” of GE’s existing ventilator design. This device will be used to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing.
Independently, the Dearborn automaker will assemble more than 100,000 plastic face shields per week at a UAW-staffed Ford manufacturing site for intended use by medical professionals, factory workers and even store clerks. 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. At full speed, more than 100,000 face shields per week will be produced at Ford subsidiary Troy Design and Manufacturing’s facilities in Plymouth, Mich.The company’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, Michigan will manufacture components and subassemblies for the face shields using in-house 3D printing capabilities.