The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has impacted the world in ways that were previously thought to be unimaginable. Routine life has changed dramatically in recent days and weeks—establishing a new “normal” for individuals everywhere. As a result, many businesses have been forced to close their doors for an indefinite period of time. Others have shifted operations in an effort to help combat the virus itself.
COVID-19 is an infectious viral disease that attacks respiratory function in critically ill patients. As such, the ventilator is a vital piece of equipment for managing the body’s breathing mechanisms in cases where lungs are failing. The caveat is that hospitals have struggled to meet ongoing supply demands. Many traditional medical organizations lack the infrastructure necessary for producing ventilators in sufficient quantities. As a result, other companies are stepping in to fill the growing void.
Amid the pandemic crisis auto manufacturers have been called in as a resource to increase ventilator production. As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow exponentially—the need for these machines has become more substantial than ever before. Auto factories have pivoted operations to meet the growing medical equipment supply demands. Using a simplified design process, auto giants such as Ford and GM have begun ramping up production capabilities around the clock in order to help replenish supply.
How Automakers are Shifting Production
Utilizing auto manufacturing facilities for alternative uses is not a new nor novel concept. During the twentieth century, automakers used their factories to help combat supply shortages during wartime efforts. In the midst of the pandemic COVID-19 crisis, automakers have once again been called upon to join the fight.
President Trump has invoked a federal initiative known as the Defense Production Act to help remedy current medical supply-chain issues. Originally enacted in 1950 during the Korean War—the Defense Production Act was created as a civil defense initiative to enhance supplies of mission essential items.
General Motors (GM) has been taking preliminary steps to aid in efforts since mid-March. GM and ventilator manufacturer Ventec have partnered together in a project otherwise known as Project V. This initiative seeks to create 200,000 ventilators within the coming months. Pre-manufacturing preparation is currently slated to begin around April 6th with full production ramping up in the weeks following.
Ford recently suspended auto production efforts at North American sites to help prepare for upcoming ventilator production. Working alongside a Florida ventilator company known as Airon—Ford is opting to utilize a simplified FDA approved design that requires no electricity to function. United Auto Worker volunteer employees will build and manufacture components at a Ford-owned factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Production is set to begin April 20th and Ford hopes to eventually reach a goal of producing 30,000 units per month.
Ford and UAW union representatives are striving to limit contamination risks to workers at manufacturing sites. Incoming employees will be screened prior to starting and individuals will be distanced from one another in an effort to limit risk of coronavirus exposure. Workers will also use a number of other protective measures such as barriers, shields, and protective devices.
Several companies such as Toyota, General Electric, Philips, Hamilton, and Medtronic have also signed contracts to help assist in manufacturing operations. The Trump administration initiative hopes to build 100,000 units within a 100 day timeframe. As transmission of the COVID-19 virus expands, companies continue to do everything in their power to help meet medical supply demand.
How AER Can Support Manufacturing Efforts
The fight against COVID-19 continues to be a daily battle that rages on with force. As our nation braces itself for difficult weeks ahead—individuals and companies must join together to combat the deadly virus by any means necessary.
AER has offered to extend a helping hand to automakers in supporting the fight against the COVID-19 disease. We hope to use our resources as a means of supporting manufacturing plans. In the future, AER hopes to facilitate medical supply remanufacturing efforts by partnering with auto companies.
If you’d like to learn more about how AER works with automotive partners to design and implement creative remanufacturing solutions, please contact us.