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Ford preparing to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days for hospitals amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 4:25 PM, Apr 04, 2020

One of America’s largest automakers is answering the call to help medical professionals who need more equipment while they treat coronavirus patients.

The goal is for Ford to create 50,000 ventilators in 100 days with production starting on April 20. After that, Ford is looking to create 30,000 ventilators a month for as long as they’re needed.

The process started with Ford engineers reverse engineering a streamlined model of a ventilator.

“From that, the team developed work instructions and basically started formulating a production process from that,” said Todd Hoevener, Ford’s Director of Advanced Strategy & Planning.

Hoevener said until April 20, Ford is making sure it can find the necessary materials, setting up the production process and organizing volunteer workers.

“Once we get that in place and we start building, people learn their jobs and as people get use to that, we find new, better ways to operate,” Hoevener said.

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A chart shows how quickly Ford plans to start producing more ventilator over the next few months.

To do it, the company is using part of a component plant in Michigan that was shut down because of the coronavirus.

Hoevener said Ford’s most recent pivot is a call back to when the company produced hundreds of thousands of parts and vehicles for the U.S. Military during World War II.

“That’s just been our history of turning the production facilities into making what we need to get us back on track,” Hoevener said.

The work Ford is doing is not under the Defense Production Act, which can compel private companies to make products for the federal government in times of emergency.

President Trump mentioned Ford by name in a tweet a week ago, at the same time encouraging General Motors to reopen is shuttered Lordstown plant, which was sold in late 2019, to also make ventilators.

Hoevener said right now he’s only focused on making sure Ford is ready to start ventilator production.

“I’m less worried about whether the government will mandate things or nor because it’s irrelevant to me,” Hoevener said.

Ford said when the ventilator production begins, they’ll make sure employees stay at least six feet apart.