Ford now making face shields, respirators

Donald Trump

"We're just going as fast as we can", Bill Ford, the automaker's executive chairman and great-grandson of Henry Ford, said on NBC's Today Show.

"We're really impressed with Ford's response", Kesti said on the call.

Separately, Ford will work with 3M to increase manufacturing capacity of its air-purifying respirators by up to a factor of 10 to meet a surge in demand for first responders and healthcare workers, while also similarly developing a simplified design that Ford could build at one of its MI plants. This new respirator could be produced in a Ford facility by UAW workers.

The company said it was exploring how it could produce these new respirators in one of its MI manufacturing plants and help 3M boost production tenfold.

Ford also is evaluating a separate effort not involving GE with the British government to make additional ventilators. As part of the effort, they're working to jointly develop a new respirator that uses parts from both firms.

Ultimately, Ford officials want to create an open-sourced design that others can adopt and use to make their own shields.

Ford will help produce a simplified version of GE Healthcare's existing ventilator, which is used to help patients suffering respiratory failure or having difficulty breathing.

Meanwhile, GM, Ventec Life Systems and StopTheSpread.org, coordinated private-sector response to COVID-19, are collaborating so that Ventec can increase its production of respiratory care products as hospitals across the US face a potential ventilator shortage.

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"We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19", said GE Healthcare President & CEO Kieran Murphy.

Ford said it is coordinating with GM to avoid duplicating efforts as each company reaches out to suppliers to help boost medical device production.

Work on this initiative ties to a request for help from US government officials.

Last but not least, Ford is pumping out 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.

Ford said its partnerships were code-named "Project Apollo" after the Apollo 13 launch in 1970 when a lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank failed two days into the mission, forcing the astronauts to improvise a fix.

In China, Ford of China joint venture partner Jiangling Motors also has donated 10 specially equipped Transit ambulance vans to hospitals in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began. Mike Kesti, global technical director at 3M's personal safety division, said the goal was to increase production tenfold from current levels.

Ford is also helping hospitals to locate and acquire surgical and N95 masks which are in short supply.

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