The press statement said that Ford is working with 3M to increase the manufacturing capacity of powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) designs and working jointly to develop a new design leveraging parts from both companies to meet the surge demand for first responders and health care workers.
This new respirator, according to the statement, could be produced in a Ford facility by UAW [United Auto Workers] workers. The respirator will use off-the-shelf parts like fans from the Ford F-150's cooled seats for airflow and 3M HEPA air filters to filter airborne contaminants such as droplets that carry virus particles, and portable tool battery packs that could power these respirators for up to eight hours.
Ford is looking at how it might produce these new-generation PAPRs in one of its Michigan manufacturing facilities, helping 3M boost production potentially tenfold, the statement noted
"Working with 3M and GE, we have empowered our teams of engineers and designers to be scrappy and creative to quickly help scale up production of this vital equipment," said Jim Hackett, Ford's president and CEO.
"We're exploring all available opportunities to further expand 3M's capacity and get healthcare supplies as quickly as possible to where they're needed most - which includes partnering with other great companies like Ford," added Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
The statement said Ford and GE Healthcare are working together to expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare's existing ventilator design to support patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing caused by COVID-19. These ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.
GE Healthcare President & CEO Kieran Murphy said: "We are proud to bring our clinical and technical expertise to this collaboration with Ford, working together to serve unprecedented demand for this life-saving technology and urgently support customers as they meet patient needs."
Work on this initiative ties to a request for help from US government officials.
Respirators and Face Shields
According to the statement, Ford's US design team is testing transparent full-face shields for medical workers and first responders. The face shields fully block the face and eyes from accidental contact with liquids and when paired with N95 respirators can be a more effective way to limit potential exposure to coronavirus than N95 respirators alone.
The statement noted that first 1,000 face shields will be tested this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Centre Sinai-Grace Hospitals. Roughly 75,000 of these shields are expected to be finished this week and more than 100,000 face shields per week will be produced at Ford subsidiary Troy Design and Manufacturing's facilities in Plymouth, Michigan in cooperation with the UAW.
Additionally, Ford is leveraging its Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Redford, Michigan and in-house 3D printing capabilities to manufacture components and subassemblies for use in personal protective equipment, the statement noted.
In China, Ford of China joint venture partner Jiangling Motors has donated 10 specially equipped Transit ambulance vans to hospitals in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began. Ford is also reacquiring 165,000 N95 respirators from China that were originally sent earlier this year to help combat coronavirus.
Ford is also evaluating a separate effort not involving GE Healthcare with the UK government to produce additional ventilators, the statement said.
(Writing by Madhura Deulgaonkar; Editing by Anoop Menon)
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