The Coronavirus epidemic has caused many companies to reorient the nature of their work and re-evaluate their priorities in the face of lockdowns and associated restrictions. Ford Motor Company, the renowned automaker headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, was one of these companies.
In the midst of it all, local businesses have stepped up to the challenge by manufacturing vital Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help protect the elderly and clinically vulnerable from the harmful effects of COVID-19.
In the spring of 2020, Ford decided to use its automaking experience to manufacture in-demand equipment like 25,000 face shields per day in its Michigan Ford facility.
Following the implementation of lockdowns, the Director of Global Core Engineering for Ford, Adrian Price stated: “we didn’t know what we were up against at first, but we just dove in. We had to just go.”
As well as manufacturing essential PPE such as reusable gowns, masks, and face shields, Ford’s historic experience allowed it to manufacture specialist equipment like ventilators and respirators.
Ford engineers and designers planned the design for a powered air-purifying respirator, incorporating ideas from repurposed auto parts.
This respirator had the potential to offer extra protection from airborne particles for frontline workers who were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
The Ford production model was created by collaboration with other companies and Ford’s own experience in supply chain management.
The fans in the respirator were similar to the air blower system in the Ford F-150 truck. 3D technology was utilised to test prototypes and the whole system was powered through a longlasting portable and rechargeable battery.
The company went on to produce an additional 50,000 ventilators and 10,000 respirators, with the increased capacity to produce another 100,000.
“The fact that we had these manufacturing facilities and expertise around the world allowed the first responders in those places access to protection when they needed it most,” quipped Price. “Protecting those skills and talents is really important.”
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