COVID-19

Ford manufacturing respirators, repurposing airbags as PPE, expanding test kit production

As part of its efforts to aid in the age of COVID-19, Ford is producing face masks.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has produced 3 million face shields for health care workers in the last few weeks. Now, they're expanding their COVID-19-related production efforts to include designing a new powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR), producing face masks, repurposing airbags as personal protective equipment, and scaling up production of coronavirus test kits.

3M partnership yields new respirator design

Designed, developed, and tested in partnership with 3M, the PAPRs will go into production at Ford's Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan on Tuesday, April 14. They will be made by 90 paid UAW volunteers. Ford predicts that its production capability will allow it to make 100,000 or more respirators.

Ford respirator design A new respirator design was formulated by experts from Ford in consultation with 3M.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

According to a release, "Since late March, Ford manufacturing, purchasing and supply chain experts have been embedded at 3M manufacturing facilities to help increase production of urgently needed products. With this additional help, 3M and Ford were able to increase the output of PAPRs and N95 respirators at 3M's U.S.-based manufacturing facilities."

The PAPR includes a hood and face shield to cover health care professionals' heads and shoulders, while a HEPA filter system provides a supply of filtered air for up to 8 hours. The air blower system – similar to the fan found in F-150's ventilated seats – is powered by a rechargeable, portable battery.

The development team expects the respirator design will meet the pending National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limited-use protocol to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, with approval anticipated by the end of April. Once approved the PAPRs will be distributed by 3M. 3M and Ford will donate any profits they earn from the sale of the PAPR to COVID-19 related nonprofit organizations.

"We knew that to play our part helping combat coronavirus, we had to go like hell and join forces with experts like 3M to expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies, said Jim Baumbick, vice president, Ford Enterprise Product Line Management. "In just three weeks under Project Apollo, we've unleashed our world-class manufacturing, purchasing and design talent to get scrappy and start making personal protection equipment and help increase the availability and production of ventilators."

Face masks are being made in Michigan

Ford is also currently producing face masks at their Van Dyke Transmission Plant for internal use globally and pursuing certification for medical use. Production began earlier this week using materials provided by Ford's roster of global suppliers.

There are 30 UAW paid volunteers making masks in the plant's ISO Class 8 cleanroom, which is a controlled environment with extremely low levels of pollutants, enabling the safe production of face masks for medical use. Ford anticipates approximately 80 UAW paid volunteers will make masks as production increases.

Additionally, Ford has started providing manufacturing expertise to help scientific instrument provider Thermo Fisher Scientific quickly expand production of COVID-19 collection kits to test for the virus.

Ford Airbag gown production Ford has teamed with its airbag supplier to create reusable gowns.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Using airbags to create PPE

Ford is working with airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems to create reusable gowns made from the material that is used to make Ford airbags. Production of the personal protective equipment is anticipated to reach 75,000 gowns per week by Sunday and scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19. By July 4, Joyson Safety Systems will be able to cut and sew 1.3 million gowns, which are self-tested to federal standards and are washable up to 50 times.

Ford worked with Beaumont Health in Detroit to design the gown pattern and test for sizing during fit and function trials. More than 5,000 gowns have already been delivered to the hospital.

Scaling up collection kits for COVID-19 tests

Ford is helping scale production of collection kits for COVID-19 tests at Thermo Fisher Scientific. The companies are utilizing Thermo Fisher's Lenexa, Kansas facility and Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant engineering team.

Work continues on ventilator production

The ford and GE Healthcare initiative to produce ventilators continues. Work at Rawsonville Components Plant in Michigan is underway to transform a portion of the plant in to a production facility by April 20. Built by paid UAW volunteers, the goal is to produce 50,000 Model A-E ventilators by July 4.

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Custom SUVs

Ford Bronco to rule SEMA this year

The Bronco RTR features a fun livery and several off-road upgrades.

Ford

The annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show is an opportunity for the aftermarket and manufacturers to come together on wildly customized vehicles and to show off the latest parts and tech in the space. Now that the Ford Bronco has finally made its way to the public, it's not surprising to see several wild SEMA takes on the hottest SUV to hit the market in some time.

2021 Bronco by Tucci Hot Rods The tracks are said to improve the Bronco's abilities in deep snow and ice.Ford

2021 Bronco by Tucci Hot Rods

The new Bronco is capable and rugged on its own, but Tucci Hot Rods felt it needed more. The shop gave it that boost with a set of tracks in place of wheels, which are said to be great for deep snow and ice. This Bronco features a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed manual transmission to go with its Mattracks 88-Series quad tracks.

2021 Bronco RTR Fun-Runner by RTR Vehicles

Vaghn Gittin Jr's RTR Vehicles imagined a Bronco package that could be installed at the dealer. The result is the Fun-Runner, which features several Ford Performance and Ford Licensed Accessories parts. It's based on a 2021 two-door Bronco Badlands, and comes with an eye-catching wrap, an Ultimate Dana 44 front axle, Ultimate Dana 60 semi-float rear axle, RCV Performance CV axles, and a performance intake for its four-cylinder engine.

2021 Bronco by BDS Supensions SEMA presents an excellent opportunity for shops to show off their skill and imagination.Ford

2021 Bronco by BDS Supensions

BDS is a subsidiary of Fox Shocks and has worked with Ford for quite some time. The results of that long-running relationship are on display with the BDS Bronco, which features Fox 2.5 PES coilovers, BDS rear adjustable control arms and track bar, swaybar disconnect, and 37-inch BFGoodrich KM3 tires. The Bronco's bumpers have been replaced with CrawlTek Revolution units that feature a recessed winch mount, recovery hooks and more.

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Ford EV manufacturing

Ford plans new plants in Tennessee and Kentucky

Ford's new TN facility may be one of the largest in U.S. history.

Ford

Earlier this year, Ford outlined its plans for significant investments in electric vehicle development and construction. Today, the automaker announced a big step forward in that roadmap that will include two new facilities, billions in new spending, and thousands of new jobs.

The $5.6 billion Stanton, TN factory will be called Blue Oval City and will bring 6,000 new jobs to the area. Ford says the site will include a BlueOval SK battery plant, and that electric F-Series trucks will be manufactured there. The assembly plant is designed to be carbon neutral and to send zero waste to landfills once it's up and running.

Ford Blue Oval City Ford plans to create a combined 11,000 jobs.Ford

Ford notes that Blue Oval City will be one of the largest automotive manufacturing sites in U.S. history. The campus sprawls 3,600 acres over six square miles, and will house assembly, battery production, and a supplier facility. The vertical integration of all functions on one site should lower Ford's production costs and reduce its carbon footprint.

The $5.8 billion Kentucky site will be a dedicated battery manufacturing complex that houses two separate battery plants. The location will supply Ford's North American assembly plants and is expected to create 5,000 new jobs. The facilities in both states are being built as part of a joint venture between Ford and SK Innovation, pending regulatory approval.

Ford Blue Oval City The TN facility is expected to be carbon neutral when it's up and running.Ford

The increase in production capacity can't come soon enough for Ford. Earlier this year, the Mustang Mach-E EV debuted to strong demand, and the automaker will soon roll out the first electric F-Series truck. Called the Ford F-150 Lightning, the pickup will be the first electric truck from a legacy automaker.

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