Ford is one of the manufacturers that has committed to helping in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, the company will devote its efforts to manufacturing ventilators, already in short supply throughout the United States even before the outbreak hits its peak.
With that peak still to come and with new hot spots cropping up in places like Louisiana and Michigan, ventilators and other essential equipment will be needed, in large quantities.
In an interview with CNN Monday night, Jim Baumbick, Ford's vice president of production management, explained how the company is preparing to participate in the effort. “We're using reverse engineering, which means taking apart the units we need to assemble to see what kind of space will be needed to install workstations, while taking into account the precautions we need to take about safe distances for our workers”.
Already, Ford is helping its partner in this venture, GE Healthcare, to increase their production capacity for ventilators. As part of this collaboration, Ford is also contributing its technical and production expertise to help manufacture a simplified model of GE Healthcare's existing ventilator. Units are currently en route to key locations.
However, the months of May and June will see an enormous spike in demand. Once Ford's ventilator production capacity is reached, the firm estimates it will be able to assemble 30,000 units per month.
"We know the need is incredible and the demand is only going to increase. We believe we will be able to start production at the end of April and then increase capacity in May and June. We need to make sure we can get the ventilators up and running as soon as possible.”
- Jim Baumbick, Ford's vice president of production management
It’s a race against time on the part of Ford and other manufacturers. As the companies develop timelines for delivering large quantities of units, the hope is that the spread of the virus can be slowed down long enough for those units to be available before the situation becomes catastrophic.