Ford Motor stated on Monday it will produce 50,000 ventilators during the next 100 days at a plant located in Michigan.
The automaker will cooperate with General Electric’s healthcare unit, and can then construct 30,000 every month as needed to treat patients affected with the coronavirus.
Ford stated the simplified ventilator design, which is licensed by GE Healthcare from Florida-based Airon and has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can meet the requirements of most COVID-19 patients and depends on air pressure without the requirement for electricity.
Officials in states seeing impact of the virus have pleaded with the Trump administration and manufacturers to accelerate production of ventilators to deal with the increase in patients having a hard time to breathe. Hospitals in New York already are using one ventilator for two patients. New Orleans has a fraction of the ventilators it requires for dealing with the increase of COVID-19 patients, Louisiana officials stated.
On Friday, President Donald Trump stated he would invoke powers under the Defense Production Act to direct automakers, such as Ford and General Motors, to produce ventilators.
On Monday, the head of the United Auto Workers (UAW) and other officials compared the auto industry’s continued efforts to build ventilators to Detroit’s conversion to bomber production during the World War II.
Ford said it prepares to start production of ventilators at a plant located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, deploying 500 UAW workers.
It stated it prepares to start production at the facility during the week of April 20. That is roughly when New York officials anticipate the peak of COVID-19 cases to hit their state.
Ventilators constructed by Ford, GM and others could be used in other parts of the country where the peak case loads are expected later.
GM stated Sunday it prepares to produce up to 10,000 ventilators a month by this summer at a plant located in Kokomo, Indiana.
The Ypsilanti workers will be placed at a safe distance apart and will be tested for symptoms of coronavirus infection before they would be allowed to enter the plant, Ford officials stated.
“We’re using and deploying a whole host of technologies to keep employees safe,” stated Adrian Price, director of global manufacturing core engineering for Ford. The safety procedures will be adapted from the task Ford and the UAW have been doing to prepare for the automaker to resume other U.S. plants, Price said.
Separately, GE and Ford engineers are collaborating with each other to increase production at a GE plant in Madison, Wisconsin, of a GE ventilator, different from the model licensed from Airon.
GE expects to twice the ventilator output from the Wisconsin plant in the second quarter, Tom Westrick, GE Healthcare’s vice president for quality, stated during a call with reporters.
Automakers in the US and across the world have shut their plants due to the coronavirus crisis.
Coronavirus has so far infected over 784,794 people and killed 37,789 worldwide. About 163,844 people in the US have been confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus. The virus has killed 3,156 people in the country.