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Ford, GE Healthcare to produce 50,000 ventilators

Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, announced today it will begin producing in Michigan a third-party ventilator with the goal to produce 50,000 of the vitally needed units within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month thereafter as needed.

Ford, GE Healthcare to produce 50,000 ventilators

Ford will initially send a team of engineers to help boost production at Airon’s Florida facility, where it produces just three of its Airon Model A ventilators per day. Ford will also begin to ready its own Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan for large-scale production of the Airon Model A-E ventilator that is expected to begin April 20. Ford said that it will pay 500 United Auto Workers, who have volunteered to work at the factory. Ford has suspended production of its vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ford said Monday that it expects to produce 1,500 Airon ventilators by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May and 50,000 by July. The automaker also said it will eventually have the capacity to build 30,000 a month.

Ford and GE Healthcare are also working on scaling production of a simplified ventilator design from GE Healthcare.

Ventilator production for COVID-19
Ventilator production for COVID-19

Monday’s announcement highlights the latest effort by automakers and medical device manufacturers to help ease a shortage of ventilators, a medical device that is used in the treatment of COVID-19, a disease caused by coronavirus. COVID-19 attacks the lungs and can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia. And since there is no clinically proven treatment yet, ventilators are relied upon to help people breathe and fight the disease. There are about 160,000 ventilators in the United States and another 12,700 in the National Strategic Supply, the NYT has reported.

Last week, GM said it would start producing Ventec Life Systems ventilators at its engine plant in Kokomo, Ind., using about 1,000 workers. GM said production will begin in the next seven to 14 days with the first shipments of the FDA-cleared ventilators scheduled to begin in April. Ventec is also trying to ramp up production at its manufacturing facility in Bothell, Wash.

The Ford-GE Healthcare collaboration also brings attention to Airon, a small privately held company that specializes in high-tech pneumatic life support products. The company’s Airon Model A-E ventilator, which GE Healthcare introduced to Ford, operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, according to the companies. Airon has been producing this ventilator since 2004.

Airon Model A ventilator production plan
Airon Model A ventilator production plan

GE Heathcare and Ford consulted with medical experts in determining the Airon-licensed

Model A-E ventilator is well suited for COVID-19 patient care. The design is expected to meet the needs of most COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. The ventilator is designed for quick setup, making it easy for healthcare workers to use – and can be deployed in an emergency room setting, during special procedures or in an intensive care unit, wherever the patient may be located.

Ford, along with the companies it is supporting, will provide additional updates as these special projects progress.

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In this article: COVID-19, coronavirus

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