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Ford commits to an extra 50,000 ventilators

Ford announces extra project with GE Healthcare to make even more medical supplies

31 Mar 2020

LESS than a week after announcing its new partnership with GE Healthcare, Ford Motor Company has revealed its goal of producing 50,000 ventilators in only 100 days in the fight against COVID-19.


Due to start production at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan on April 20, Ford is currently working with GE Healthcare to leverage the designs of Airon Corp’s FDA-cleared ventilator with production expected to peak at 30,000 units a month, if needed.


This new production wave is in addition to the initial production plans reported on last week by GoAuto, with this particular ventilator being able to operate without the need of electricity.


According to Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett, the simplified ventilator would be produced with the support of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union and that saving lives was the top priority.


“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,” he said.


Before production in Michigan begins, Ford says it will initially be sending a team of workers to the Airon manufacturing facilities in Florida in a bid to boost production there too.


Some 1500 units are expected to be finished by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May before the ultimate goal of 50,000 is chalked up by July 4 thanks to round-the-clock production.


More than 450 paid-volunteer UAW workers will work in three shifts to ensure production continues to run smoothly and consistently, with the whole project providing a sizeable boost to the Trump government’s goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.


White House defense production act coordinator Peter Navarro saluted Ford and GE Healthcare’s efforts and said he was looking forward to saluting them again when the first ventilators start rolling off the production line.


“The Ford/GE Healthcare team is moving in ‘Trump time’ to speed urgently needed ventilators to the front lines of the Trump Administration’s full-scale war against the coronavirus,” he said.


“Just as Ford in the last century moved its manufacturing might seamlessly from auto to tank production during World War II, the Ford team is working with GE Healthcare to use its awesome engineering and manufacturing capabilities to voluntarily help this nation solve one of its most pressing problems.”


GE Healthcare President and CEO Kieran Murphy added his thanks and said that GE’s deep understanding of the healthcare industry and Ford’s production expertise would help meet the unprecedented demand for medical equipment.


“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,” he said.


“We continue to be encouraged by how quickly companies are coming together in innovative ways to address this collective challenge.”


UAW international president Rory Gamble also commended the auto giant for undertaking the project and said the involvement of UAW employees was in the tradition of its members stepping up during difficult times for the greater good.


“We are working very closely with Ford to make sure that all CDC guidelines are followed and that we are exercising an abundance of caution inside the plant,” he said.

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