Detroit based carmakers Ford and General Motors have ramped up production to help answer the demand for life-saving ventilators and other healthcare devices as COVID-19 cases rise above 300,000. GM is working to generate 10,000 ventilators each month starting mid-April while Ford is working to manufacture 50,000 within the next 100 days.
The shift in production endeavors is reminiscent of the “Arsenal of Democracy” which was President Roosevelt’s directive to build arms during World War II. The call to build ventilators to combat against COVID-19 is now being referred to as the “Arsenal of Health.” However, health and government officials have stated that the worst is yet to come and others are worried that the carmakers’ efforts may come too late.
General Motors Coronavirus Projects “M’ and “V”
This past week, GM began mockups for “Project M”, the company’s strategy to produce masks at its Warren, Michigan plant. GM set out to make 20,0000 Level 1 surgical masks available for those on the healthcare frontlines in its first week of operation and plans to increase to around 50,000 masks per day; the carmaker may even boost up to 100,000 per day if needed. Mask production is dependent on the materials accessible each day. GM is working closely with the government and its local distributors to provide the masks to those in need.
GM is also working on “Project V” in partnership with Ventec Life Systems to build VOCSN critical care ventilators at the carmaker’s Kokomo, Indiana plant. The joint mission to create the FDA- approved ventilators will assist Ventec with its own production facility in Bothell, Washington. Since the end of March, GM and Ventec scaled production, refined supply outlined, and secured over 700 separate materials that will produce 200,000 VOCSN ventilators. The VOCSN ventilator design joins five individual devices together including a ventilator, oxygen concentrator, and cough assist into one portable machine to be used in the hospital or at home.
Ford has also distributed hundreds of thousands of face guarding shields to various hospitals across the U.S.
Ford Focuses on “Project Apollo”
Ford is partnering with GE Healthcare to produce FDA approved ventilators in Michigan based on Florida company’s Airon Corp.’s models. The carmaker expects to have the GE/Airon Model A-E ventilators in production the week of April 20. These ventilators are powered by air pressure without the use of electricity and address the needs of COVID-19 patients.
These ventilators are also constructed for a quick setup and are fit for intensive care units, emergency rooms, and suited for major procedures. After production officially begins later this month, Ford expects to produce 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators each week.
Ford is staying close to the CDC to ensure that they are following the proper guidelines the coronavirus situation continues to change. In a separate venture, Ford-GE Healthcare also announced that they would work jointly to build a simplified ventilator designed by GE Healthcare to further address COVID-19 concerns and treat patients in need.