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OEMs Partner with Healthcare Industry to Manufacture Medical Supplies to Fight Coronavirus

Fiat Chrysler, Ford and GM are partnering with healthcare suppliers to ramp up production of critically needed face masks, respirators, ventilators and face shields for healthcare workers and coronavirus patients.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is stepping in to help those at the front line of the coronavirus pandemic by manufacturing and donating more than 1 million protective face masks per month. Production capacity is being installed this week and the company will start manufacturing face masks in the coming weeks with initial distribution across the United States, Canada and Mexico. The face masks are to be donated by FCA to police, EMTs and firefighters, as well as to workers in hospitals and health care clinics. This action is the first of a multifaceted global program being developed by the company through applying manufacturing, supply-chain and engineering expertise to support the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting on this initiative, FCA CEO Mike Manley said: “Protecting our first responders and health care workers has never been more important. In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks. We’ve marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic.”  

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FCA will work through national, regional and city authorities to ensure that the donated face masks are being directed to the people and facilities in the most immediate need.

Ford

Ford Motor Co., joining forces with firms including 3M and GE Healthcare, is lending its manufacturing and engineering expertise to quickly expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders and patients fighting coronavirus. In addition, Ford plans to assemble more than 100,000 face shields per week and leverage its in-house 3D printing capability to produce components for use in personal protective equipment.

“This is such a critical time for America and the world. It is a time for action and cooperation. By coming together across multiple industries, we can make a real difference for people in need and for those on the front lines of this crisis,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman.

Powered Air-Purifying Respirators: Ford team members are working with 3M to increase the manufacturing capacity of their 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 could be produced in a Ford facility by UAW workers. To go as fast as possible, the Ford and 3M teams have been locating off-the-shelf parts, including fans from the Ford F-150’s cooled seats for airflow, 3M HEPA air filters to filter airborne contaminants such as droplets that carry virus particles and portable tool battery packs to 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.

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Ventilators: In addition, 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.  

Respirators and Face Shields: Meanwhile, Ford’s U.S. design team also is quickly creating and starting to test 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 first 1,000 face shields will be tested this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center 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.

GM

GM and Ventec Life Systems, in cooperation with StopTheSpread.org—the nation’s coordinated private sector response to COVID-19—are collaborating to enable Ventec to increase production of its respiratory care products to support the growing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Ventec will leverage GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more ventilators. To support these efforts, StopTheSpread.org will continue to unite business leaders across the country to collect resources to complement and support government efforts.

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“With GM’s help, Ventec will increase ventilator production,” said Chris Kiple, Ventec Life Systems CEO. “By tapping their expertise, GM is enabling us to get more ventilators to more hospitals much faster. This partnership will help save lives.”

“We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mary Barra, GM chair and CEO. “We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis.”

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