Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, will begin producing third-party ventilators at the auto company’s assembly plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The goal is to produce 50,000 of the vitally needed units within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month thereafter as needed.
Ford said it “will provide its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production, and GE Healthcare will provide its clinical expertise and will license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp., a small, privately held company specializing in high-tech pneumatic life support products. GE Healthcare brought the Airon Corp. design to Ford’s attention as part of the companies’ efforts to scale production of ventilators quickly to help clinicians treat COVID-19 patients.”
Ford will initially send a team to work with Airon to boost production in Florida, and by the week of April 20, will start production at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, quickly ramping up to reach full production to help meet surging demand.
Ford’s Rawsonville plant will produce the ventilators nearly around the clock, with 500 paid volunteer UAW-represented employees working on three shifts. Airon currently produces three Airon pNeuton Model A ventilators per day in Melbourne, Fla. At full production, Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week.
Ford officials said the company expects to produce 1,500 by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May and 50,000 by July 4, helping the U.S. government meet its goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.
“From the days of Rosie the Riveter, UAW members have stepped up during difficult times in this nation’s history for the good of us all,” said UAW International President Rory Gamble. “Today’s announcement by Ford that UAW employees will make ventilators at Rawsonville is in that tradition. We are working very closely with Ford to make sure that all CDC guidelines are followed and that we are exercising an abundance of caution inside the plant. Ford and our UAW Ford members should be commended for stepping up in these very uncertain times.”
The Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator is the second Ford-GE Healthcare ventilator collaboration. Last week, Ford and GE Healthcare announced a separate effort to produce a simplified ventilator design from GE Healthcare. The combined ventilator supply will help address the increasing surge demand for ventilators around the U.S in the fight against COVID-19, each well suited to meet time, production volume and patient care requirements.
“We applaud Ford for its efforts to lend its manufacturing capabilities to help quickly scale the Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator and arm clinicians in the fight against COVID-19,” said GE Healthcare President and CEO Kieran Murphy. “Our deep understanding of the health care industry with Ford’s supply chain and production expertise will help meet the unprecedented demand for medical equipment. We continue to be encouraged by how quickly companies are coming together in innovative ways to address this collective challenge.”
“The Ford and GE Healthcare teams, working creatively and tirelessly, have found a way to produce this vitally needed ventilator quickly and in meaningful numbers,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO. “By producing this ventilator in Michigan, in strong partnership with the UAW, we can help health care workers save lives, and that’s our No. 1 priority.”