The Ford Motor’s Rawsonville Plant located in Michigan is being converted into a ventilator factory, as hospitals fighting the coronavirus have reported about shortages of the life-saving devices. Ford expects to start building the devices this month and increasing it to 7,200 a week.
The company has promised to provide 50,000 ventilators by July 4, which may be too late for places with an urgent need for ventilators at this moment.
Describing why it will take weeks to start the work, Ford’s Adrian Price informed CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave, “There’s quite a bit that goes into taking a design that is presently being produced at two-a-day and scaling that to make over 7,000 a week.”
Price, who is running the project, stated the company is used to building big automotive products. “Scaling to produce something like a small ventilator requires different sourcing and parts and different capability,” he said.
The automaker is also making face shields at a rate of one every 10 seconds. It delivered hundreds to first responders in the Detroit location.
“That will save not only the lives of our firefighters and paramedics but the lives of the public,” stated Ed Cann, deputy chief and fire marshal at the Allen Park Fire Department.
The effort by Ford, as well as General Motors, has reminded some of World War II, when Detroit built trucks, tanks, and even planes. The plant where Ford will assemble ventilators is just down the road from the airfield where it once constructed B-24s bombers.
“Supporting in times of crisis is kind of built into Ford’s DNA,” Price stated.
Measures aimed at protecting the workers consists of temperature checks at the door, mandatory mask-wearing and work stations at least six feet apart. Work stations are going to be disinfected before and after each shift.
“We have to do this. This is vitally important to the American people and those who are sick,” Hess stated.
Starting next week, hundreds, if not thousands, of ventilators will be presented off the line, first at GM, then at Ford, with a goal of about 17,000 every week by May.
About 385,449 people in the US have been confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus. The virus has killed 12,126 people in the country.