Ford switches focus to making needed medical supplies
By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Three Ford Motor Co. employees working at Dearborn facilities have died due to COVID-19, the UAW announced.
One employee worked at the Ford Motor Co. Dearborn Stamping and a second at the Ford Data Center, the UAW announced March 28. A third person, a Ford employee from Local 600 Dearborn Diversified, died from the virus, the UAW announced March 28.
“I also want to extend, on behalf of the entire International Executive Board, our gratitude and concern for our members and all the brave men and women who are serving on the front lines of this crisis to keep all of us safe,” UAW President Rory Gamble said in a news release. “We pray for your well-being and safety.”
On March 24, Ford announced it is joining forces with 3M and General Electric Healthcare, as well as 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.
Ford has collaborated with GE Healthcare will create 50,000 ventilators within the next 100 days and then the ability to produce 30,000 a month thereafter as needed, a press release said. The simplified ventilator design is licensed by GE Healthcare from Florida-based Airon Corp, which operates on air pressure without the need for electricity.
According to the release, Ford expects to produce 1,500 ventilators 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.
Ford is sending a team to work with Airon to initially boost production in Florida, and by the week of April 20 will start production at its Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti.
Three shifts to make the ventilators will be worked by approximately 500 paid volunteer UAW-represented employees. At full production, Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week, the release said.
“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,” Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett said. “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.”
Ford also 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. The shields were delivered to local hospitals starting March 26 and 27.
“Ford is leveraging its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford, and in-house 3D printing capabilities to manufacture components and subassemblies for use in personal protective equipment,” a press release said.
More than 100,000 face shields per week will be produced at Ford subsidiary Troy Design and Manufacturing’s facilities in Plymouth.
According to a press release, Ford employees are working with 3M to increase the manufacturing capacity of their powered air-purifying respirator designs and working jointly to develop a new design leveraging parts from both companies to meet the demand for first responders and health care workers.
This new PAPR could be produced in a Ford facility by UAW workers.
Ford announced it will delay its planned restart of several North America plants to help protect its workers. It planned to restart production April 6 at Hermosillo Assembly Plant in Sonora, Mexico, and April 14 at several key U.S. plants.
No new dates were given in a press release.
“Today’s decision by Ford is the right decision for our members, their families and our nation. Under Vice President Gerald Kariem, the UAW Ford Department continues to work closely with our local unions and Ford to make sure that when we return to production all members are safe, and our communities are protected from this spreading pandemic.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])