In recent weeks, governments and industries around the world have been mobilizing in their fight against COVID-19. If there is one thing people get behind, is that war may eliminate a foe, but viruses can eliminate everybody. Nobody wants that. So, even arch-rival automakers have united behind the purpose of doing what they can to help humanity survive the onslaught of what is now a global pandemic.
Laying down of hostilities
To fight COVID-19, Ford, GM, Tesla, and other production giants have turned their ability to manufacture and pivoted to creating things that can help humanity survive, such as breathing masks, face shields, ventilators, respirators, and a list of medical equipment goes on and on. Right now, the auto giants are not in a war against each other. Instead, they are united in an all-out war against COVID-19. Today, Ford announced some progress in that war.
Manufacturing pivots take time
Shifts in production take time. For example, it is not just a matter of putting in new software into a machine and hitting the green, go button. The program must first be created. Then the programming must be validated, and the necessary equipment recalibrated for its new purpose. Then test runs can be performed to make sure everything is within expected tolerances. Finally, production can begin. That’s a rough break down of the process if machines are involved. What if the new process involves teaching humans how to handcraft things as well?
Someone who knows
The Detroit Free Press recently interviewed a gentleman who understands all the time that is consumed in setting things up when making such a switch.
“This is one of the greatest crises to threaten humanity in my lifetime,” said Adrian Price, director of global core engineering for vehicle manufacturing, a lead on Ford’s COVID-19 task force. “In times of crisis, it is incumbent upon every citizen to do what they can — whether it’s stay at home and socially isolate or leverage skills in different ways and help.”
“These front line defenders, they go into war every day with only a mask as their shield and intubation pipes as their sword. They are the real heroes,” said Price, who usually overhauls auto plants to accommodate different manufacturing processes. “We are here to support them.”
“Hopefully we’re making a difference,” Price said.”
The Good News
Today there was good news that comes from all that labor. Over on their twitter account, Ford posted that they had produced and delivered 1,012,756 face shields for COVID-19 first responders. That is over one million shields that are already in service. What is even more amazing, that is after only having committed to effort a short two weeks ago.
The story does not end there either. Ford is committed to getting as many face shields created and shipped until the COVID-19 is no longer a drain on the normal medical supply chain. They are currently manufacturing 200,000 disposable face shields per day, building a new one every 10 seconds.
In the battle against COVID-19 our front line workers are facing great peril against their bodies, their schedules, and their personal relationships. It is good to know that when the United State’s industrial might gets summoned to serve our nation, as it has with this pandemic, that it can still respond with all the tenacity needed to fight a war and protect those heroes. To all manufacturers that have agreed to pivot their production toward needed medical equipment, we thank you. I thank you.