Ford Motor Company, in partnership with GE Healthcare, announced that it will begin producing third-party ventilators starting the week of April 20 at the its Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The motor company targets to produce 50,000 ventilators within the next 100 days, and up to 30,000 a month thereafter.
“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 (United Auto Workers), we can help health care workers save lives, and that’s our No. 1 priority.”
Simplified ventilator design
The ventilators that Ford will produce uses the design of Airon Corp, which specializes in high-tech pneumatic life support products. The small Florida-based company’s simplified design operates on air pressure without the need for electricity.
GE Heathcare and Ford consulted with medical experts in determining whether the Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator is well suited for COVID-19 patient care. The design meets the needs of most COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. The ventilator ihas a quick setup design, making it easy for healthcare workers to use. It can be deployed in an emergency room setting, during special procedures, or in an intensive care unit.
Ford will provide the manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production and immediately distribute the ventilators to clinicians treating COVID-19 patients. The company’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, Florida. At full production, Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week.
Ford expects to produce 1,500 by the end of April and 12,000 by the end of May. By July 4, the company looks forward to producing 50,000 units. This will help the U.S. government meet its goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.
Meanwhile GE Healthcare, for their part, provides the clinical expertise and will license the current ventilator design.
The Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator is the second Ford-GE Healthcare ventilator collaboration. A week before, Ford and GE Healthcare announced a separate effort to produce a simplified ventilator design from GE Healthcare.