Automaker is collaborating with GE Healthcare to leverage the design of Airon Corp.’s A-E ventilator
DEARBORN, Mich.—Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, will begin producing in Michigan a third-party ventilator with the goal to produce 50,000 of the vitally needed units within 100 days, Ford announced in a release. The company said that it will aim to produce up to 30,000 a month thereafter as needed.
Ford will provide its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production. GE Healthcare will provide its clinical expertise and will license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp., a small, privately held company specializing in high-tech pneumatic life support products. GE Healthcare brought the Airon Corp. design to Ford’s attention as part of the companies’ efforts to scale production of ventilators quickly to help clinicians treat COVID-19 patients.
The GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Its production can be quickly scaled to help meet growing demand in the United States.
“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, in a statement. “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 initially send a team to work with Airon to boost production in Florida, and by the week of April 20, will start production at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The goal is to quickly ramp up to reach full production to help meet surging demand. Ford expects to produce 1,500 by the end of April, as well as 12,000 by the end of May, and 50,000 by July 4.
Ford’s Rawsonville plant will work to produce the ventilators nearly around the clock, with 500 paid volunteer UAW-represented employees working on three shifts. Airon currently produces three Airon pNeuton Model A ventilators per day in Melbourne, Florida. At full production, Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week.
The Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator is the second Ford-GE Healthcare ventilator collaboration. Last week, Ford and GE Healthcare announced a separate effort to produce a simplified ventilator design from GE Healthcare. The combined ventilator supply will help address the increasing surge demand for ventilators around the U.S in the fight against COVID-19.
“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.”
GE Healthcare and Ford consulted with medical experts in determining that the Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator is well suited for COVID-19 patient care. The design is expected to meet the needs of most COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. The ventilator is designed for quick setup, making it easy for healthcare workers to use. It can be deployed in an emergency room setting, during special procedures, or in an intensive care unit, wherever the patient may be located.