Ford plans to produce 50K ventilators in Michigan by July amid COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 4:30 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 21:43:18-04

(WXYZ) — Ford Motor Company announced Monday it has partnered with GE Healthcare with plans to make 50,000 ventilators in Michigan by July.

According to Ford, it will provide its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production, while GE Healthcare will provide clinical expertise and license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp. – a small company that specializes in life support products.

Related: Trump invokes Defense Production Act, orders GM to begin fulfilling federal contracts for ventilators

With the support of the UAW, the ventilator production is targeted to start the week of April 20 at Ford's Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti.

After the first 100 days, Ford said it has the ability to produce 30,000 ventilators each month after as needed.

The GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure and doesn't need electricity, which will address the needs of most COVID-19 patients.

“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.”

White House Defense Production Act Coordinator Peter Navarro said, "The Ford/GE Healthcare team is moving in ‘Trump time’ to speed urgently needed ventilators to the front lines of the Trump Administration’s full-scale war against the coronavirus. Just as Ford in the last century moved its manufacturing might seamlessly from auto to tank production during World War II, the Ford team is working with GE Healthcare to use its awesome engineering and manufacturing capabilities to voluntarily help this nation solve one of its most pressing problems. We salute that effort and look forward to the first ventilators rolling off the Michigan assembly line in record time – and we’ll be there to salute that milestone.”

Initially, Ford will send a team to work with Airon to boost production in Florida, and by April 20, will start production in Ypsilanti.

They expect to produce 1,500 by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May and 50,000 by July 4, Ford said.

There will be nearly 500 paid volunteer UAW-represented employees working three shifts nearly around the clock.

“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.”

Last week, Ford and GE Healthcare announced a separate effort to produce a simplified ventilator design, the R19 ventilator, and the two companies have already increased output.

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