Ford partners with 3M, GE to help make medical supplies during coronavirus crisis

Ford departs from auto manufacturing to help fight pandemic

DETROIT – Ford Motor Company is partnering with 3M and GE to help make medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis.

A departure from auto manufacturing during times of need isn’t unusual for Ford. The company made helmets during World War I, an incubator in 1941 and even an iron lung for children with polio in 1948.

“We have a lot going on,” Bill Ford Jr. said. “It’s very much what our company does, and our employees are amazing.”

Tuesday via Skype, Ford laid out how his company is trying to make extra medical supplies. The partnership is designed to help make air purifying respirators, ventilators and face shields.

Those face shields are being produced at a rate of 100,000 per week.

Engineers and designers have been working on plans, using what’s at their disposal. For instance, a filtration system is using a seat cooling blower from a Ford F-150.

“When you’re in a situation like this, you use anything you can,” Ford said. “We’re finding those fans are useful in production of other items.”

In fact, there’s a lot of that going on, as one of Ford’s vice presidents detailed on a conference call.

“All of that inspired us to get scrappy,” the vice president said.

To further boost productivity, Ford is considering using one of its plants, and the United Auto Workers union says it’s ready with the workforce.

What about costs and profits? Right now, Ford said that doesn’t matter.

“Honestly, we have no idea,” he said. “Nobody has talked about the financial implications. We’ll sort all that our later.”

Working with 3M, the goal is to increase the respirator manufacturing six to 10 times more than what they’re doing now.

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