DEARBORN, MI – Ford Motor Company is getting creative to help in the fight against COVID-19.
The auto giant announced a slew of efforts on Monday to produce urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for health care workers, first responders and patients fighting coronavirus.
In a somewhat unique move, Ford is manufacturing reusable gowns with airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems. The project has created re-usable gowns manufactured from material used to make airbags in Ford vehicles.
Production of gowns will reach 75,000 gowns a week by Sunday and scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19 and beyond. By July 4, Joyson Safety Systems will cut and sew 1.3 million gowns, which are self-tested to federal standards and are washable up to 50 times.
Ford worked with Beaumont Health in Metro Detroit to quickly design the gown pattern and test for sizing during fit and function trials. More than 5,000 gowns have already been delivered to the hospital.
“The need to protect our medical teams is heightened – Ford’s gown production could not come at a better time during this crisis,” said David Claeys, president of Beaumont Health hospitals in Dearborn and Farmington Hills, in a statement.
“Our front-line health care workers are working around the clock to treat COVID-19 patients and we need the necessary supplies to support them.”
The effort is in addition to the current production of more than 3 million face shields in Plymouth. Ford-designed powered air-purifying respirator production will begin Tuesday and Ford is also producing face masks.
Lastly, Ford started providing manufacturing expertise to help scientific instrument provider Thermo Fisher Scientific quickly expand production of COVID-19 collection kits to test for the virus.
“We knew that to play our part helping combat coronavirus, we had to go like hell and join forces with experts like 3M to expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies, said Jim Baumbick, vice president, Ford Enterprise Product Line Management, in a statement.
“In just three weeks under Project Apollo, we’ve unleashed our world-class manufacturing, purchasing and design talent to get scrappy and start making personal protection equipment and help increase the availability and production of ventilators.”
Work at Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan is underway to transform a portion of the plant to manufacture a third-party ventilator, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, with production expected to start the week of April 20.
Built by paid UAW volunteers, the goal is to produce 50,000 Model A-E ventilators by July 4 to help COVID-19 patients. Ventilator pre-production activities are also underway in the U.K., where Ford and its partners are preparing to make ventilators from Penlon.
Ford is providing manufacturing engineering capability, project leadership, purchasing support and assembly of the ventilators at its Dagenham engine plant. This production will help meet demand for 15,000 ventilators ordered by the U.K. government.