Ford is pitching in.

Last month, Ford announced plans to retrofit its manufacturing capabilities to produce medical supplies needed to combat the novel coronavirus. To this end, manufacturing began on April 20, with the goal of producing 50,000 ventilators within the next 100 days. Additionally, Ford is planning to continue production past July 31 to ship 30,000 ventilators per month for as long as necessary. 

This manufacturing program was launched in collaboration with GE Healthcare, a manufacturer and distributor of medical equipment that is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. While Ford will be handling almost all of the engineering and manufacturing, GE will be contributing clinical expertise along with licensing the blueprints to its Model A-E ventilators. 

ford makes ventilators
Courtesy of Ford Media Center

These ventilators use a simplified design that was secured from Airon Corp.—a small company that specializes in pneumatic life support products. The Model A-E ventilator is a bit different than ones currently in circulation. Instead of using electricity, the device uses air pressure to stimulate breathing for patients who would otherwise be unable to. This design is expected to address the needs of most COVID-19 patients experiencing respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. Its compact model makes it ideal for quick setup so that it can be used in emergency situations. 

Ford is quick to point out that this isn't its first time stepping up production to address national emergencies. During World War II, Ford suspended its production of commercial vehicles to focus on manufacturing combat vehicles for soldiers fighting overseas. Its assembly plant in California was one of the largest manufacturers of jeeps bound for combat in the Pacific. That dedication to national priorities and public service is something that Ford hopes to display in its dedication to the fight against COVID-19.