Ford is the latest automaker to announce that it will start making desperately needed ventilators that are crucial for treating the worst symptoms of COVID-19. The automaker announced Monday that it will manufacture ventilators for General Electric’s health care division, which has licensed a “simplified” design that does not need electricity from a Florida ventilator company called Airon — and one that is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Ford has already been working with GE to increase production of its own ventilators, and will soon start helping Airon increase the company’s production capacity in Florida. The automaker is already helping make
Ford will pay 500 United Auto Workers-represented volunteer employees to build the ventilators at one of the automaker’s components factories in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which is currently shut down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The company will build the ventilators “around the clock” starting the week of April 20th. Ford says it expects to be able to build 1,500 of them by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May, and 50,000 by July, eventually reaching a rate of 30,000 per month.
Adrian Price, director of Ford’s global manufacturing core engineering division, said Ford and GE Healthcare believe the unpowered ventilator design is “absolutely robust in terms of its capability.” Perhaps more importantly, Price said it’s a simple design that can be quickly scaled up.
When it comes to protecting the workers who will build the ventilators, Ford says it’s working with the UAW to make sure they’re properly screened and set far enough apart so they don’t risk spreading the novel coronavirus. The company will also use barriers, shields and protective devices as well. Price said the automaker is “also looking at deploying some new technology that can can help us in in the fight on COVID,” but did not go into any further detail. Ford has
Ford joins fellow Detroit automaker General Motors in
Tesla is also
In response to the need for ventilators, as well as the economic impact of the pandemic, a number of workers in GE’s aviation division decided
When asked why GE Healthcare is tapping Ford to make these ventilators instead of its own workers, Tom Westrick, the division’s vice president and chief quality officer, said: “Our decision to select Ford was based specifically on speed, and our ability to increase capacity as fast as we could.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story claimed the GE aviation workers stopped work. The protest happened outside the facility while they were off duty. We regret the error.