Ford Motor Company is planning to make ventilators for treating hospitalized coronavirus patients. President and CEO of the company, Jim Hackett said on Tuesday that the ventilators are intended to be ready by early June according to CBS News.
Ford is one of the many private companies helping to curb the shortage of medical equipment that hospitals are expecting as the amount of coronavirus patients rises.
“The problem is that the lines that have been in place produce hundreds or thousands. We're talking about needing hundreds of thousands.” said Hackett. “So we're talking about early June, where we don't think it's a problem, but between now and June it's about ramping up.”
The company is teaming up with GE Healthcare to make the ventilators in the US. It is also working with Airbus in the UK and McLaren Automotive.
Hackett noted that changes to the assembly line will have to be made to provide safe working conditions as the government has shut down many factories to avoid further spread of coronavirus.
“A factory is all about working together on a line, so the way these teams are designing the production of this is building some assemblies in smaller groups and having them come together to be assembled, but we'll make extremely safe places,” he added.
Hackett said that the company also has plans to make “positive air pressure masks” to aid health care workers. The company is planning to use parts from the cooling system used in some of its seats and repurpose them for the masks.
“Those products, in addition to the ventilators, there's actually two or three different versions of breathing apparatus that we're working on. Hundreds of thousands of the most simplest ones will be started to be produced in the next week or so,” Hackett said.
When asked about how the company will deal with the economic impact, Hackett said, “Our first care is for our people. Back in '08, Ford didn't take a bailout. The company borrowed enough money to take care of itself back then. We have a fortress balance sheet today, so what we're trying to do is get through this quarantine period where everyone has a job, and then on the other side, quickly rebuild demand.”