Ford, GE Healthcare to produce 50,000 ventilators by July 4

HOLMDEL, NJ - MARCH 24: A general view of the Ford Motor Company logo on March 24, 2020 in Union, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ford has announced it is partnering with GE Healthcare to build at least 50,000 ventilators for patients who are sick with coronavirus/COVID-19.

The company announced the initiative on Monday, saying it expects to build 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days and make 30,000 more each month after, as needed.

The ventilators are licensed by GE Healthcare from Florida-based Airon Corp. and responsive to the needs of most COVID-19 patients. The simplified design operates on air pressure and does not require electricity.

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Ford is providing the manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production while GE Healthcare provides clinical expertise to license the design.

“The Ford and GE Healthcare teams, working creatively and tirelessly, have found a way to produce this vitally needed ventilator quickly and in meaningful numbers,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO. “By producing this ventilator in Michigan, in strong partnership with the UAW, we can help health care workers save lives, and that’s our No. 1 priority.”

Ford will send a team to Florida to work with Airon and by April 20, it plans to start production at the Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti, Mich. 

By the end of April, the company expects to produce 1,500 ventilators, 12,000 by the end of May and 50,000 by July 4. The company said this is helping the federal government meet the goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.

Ford's plant in Ypsilanti will be staffed by 500 paid volunteer UAW-represented employees working on three shifts and will produce ventilators nearly around the clock.

Currently, Aion produces three of the ventilators each day at its plant in Melbourne, Florida. Ford expects to be making 7,200 of these ventilators per week, at full production.

“From the days of Rosie the Riveter, UAW members have stepped up during difficult times in this nation’s history for the good of us all,” said UAW International President Rory Gamble. “Today’s announcement by Ford that UAW employees will make ventilators at Rawsonville is in that tradition. We are working very closely with Ford to make sure that all CDC guidelines are followed and that we are exercising an abundance of caution inside the plant. Ford and our UAW Ford members should be commended for stepping up in these very uncertain times.”

This new ventilator is the second Ford-GE Healthcare ventilator collaboration. Last week, the two companies produced another design from GE Healthcare to increase the output of the R19 Ventilator. 

“We applaud Ford for its efforts to lend its manufacturing capabilities to help quickly scale the Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator and arm clinicians in the fight against COVID-19,” said GE Healthcare President and CEO Kieran Murphy. “Our deep understanding of the health care industry with Ford’s supply chain and production expertise will help meet the unprecedented demand for medical equipment. We continue to be encouraged by how quickly companies are coming together in innovative ways to address this collective challenge.”

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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. 

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

Are you showing symptoms? Try Beaumont's virtual screening tool

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.