Ford Respirator Production Starts at Vreeland
Ford on Tuesday kicked off production of a new powered air-purifying respirator, saying that it has to capacity to build up to 100,000 units. The PAPR, developed in collaboration with 3M in under four weeks’ time, will provide essential protection for front-line healthcare professionals working to save lives in the COVID-19 crisis.
“By working collaboratively with 3M to quickly combine more than 100 years of Ford manufacturing and engineering expertise with personal protection equipment design and expertise, we’re getting much-needed technology into the hands of frontline medical workers to help when they need it most,” said Marcy Fisher, Ford director, Global Body Exterior and Interior Engineering.
Around 90 paid UAW volunteer workers are building the respirators at the Vreeland facility near Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant. The PAPR provides full coverage for healthcare workers with a hood and face shield, leveraging a high-efficiency filter to provide safe, breathable air for up to eight hours. Ford contributed an air blower system like that used in the ventilated seats of the Ford F-150.
When the respirators are approved, 3M will handle distribution throughout the United States.
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Face mask and gown production also underway
In addition to the respirators built at Vreeland and the ventilators that will be built at the Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti starting Monday, Ford is committing manufacturing capability to the production of face masks and gowns. The former are being built at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant in the ISO Class 8 cleanroom — a controlled environment that helps ensure the face masks are safe for use.
Currently, 30 paid UAW volunteers are putting together the masks, and plans are in place to expand the number of workers to 80.
“UAW Ford members continue to step up and volunteer to work during this difficult time as we expand at the facility across from Flat Rock to make respirators and at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant to make face masks for medical use,” said Gerald Kariem, vice president, UAW Ford Department. “The UAW also continues to work with Ford to follow stringent CDC guidelines and go above and beyond protections for these members who are so proudly volunteering to serve their communities and their nation.”
Ford is also partnering with supplier Joyson Safety Systems, a manufacturer of airbags, to put together 1.3 million cut-and-sewn gowns by the Fourth of July. The gowns will meet all federal standards and can be washed up to 50 times. Production capacity for this past week is said to be around 75,000 and will hit upwards of 100,000 a week by next Sunday. Ford has already delivered 5,000 gowns to Beaumont Health in Metro Detroit, with whom the company worked to design and test the gown design.
Efforts continue in other areas
As of Monday, Ford says that it has built 3 million face shields in the United States with countless more build at global manufacturing facilities. Ford is also looking to ease the burden of its customers with its Built to Lend a Hand program, which offers payment coverage and deferments for new and existing customers. Ford Fund is also offering a COVID-19 Donation Match program that will pledge up to $1 million to nonprofits working to combat the pandemic.