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 designA 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 productionFord 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.

Trending News

 
 

Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.

Lincoln

TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

Trending News

 
 

First-year Ford F-150 Lightning production numbers doubled
Ford

Ford has begun serial production of the new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, marking what could be one of the most important days in recent automotive history. The first trucks rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan today, so America's best-selling truck has finally gone electric. Ford wants to sell two million EVs per year by 2026 and have half of its global sales volume to be electric by 2030.

Ford F-150 LightningPast meets future: Ford's new electric pickup will be the F-150 Lightningautomotivemap.com

Ford has seen extreme demand for the trucks, with 200,000 reservations since the books opened. To deliver, the automaker plans to increase production to an annual rate of 150,000 units by next year, which involved huge investments in the Rouge Center and created hundreds of jobs. Ford's total investment for the F-150 Lightning crests $1 billion across Michigan alone, and has created 1,700 jobs across various facilities in the state.

Ford F-150 LightningThe first production trucks left the factory today.
Ford Motor Company

Though the Lightning starts around $40,000, the most mainstream models will cost much more than that. The F-150 Lightning Pro, while affordable, is a stripped-down truck intended for commercial buyers. It's still a forward-looking electric truck with amazing capabilities, but it lacks much of the creature comforts and features that everyday drivers expect. Higher trims get the latest driver assistance features, including BlueCruise, which is Ford's semi-autonomous hands-free driving assistant. A 12-inch touchscreen is standard, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and more.

Trending News