by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | March 24, 2020
GE Healthcare and 3M are joining forces with Ford Motor Companies to increase available supplies of equipment for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
GE will work with Ford to scale its production of ventilators, while separately, Ford will help escalate 3M’s powered air-purifying respirators.
“We are encouraged by how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized to help address the growing challenge we collectively face from COVID-19,” said GE Healthcare president and CEO Kieran Murphy in a statement. “We are proud to bring our clinical and technical expertise to this collaboration with Ford, working together to serve unprecedented demand for this lifesaving technology and support clinicians as they meet patient needs.”
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With GE, Ford will apply its technical and production expertise to manufacture a simplified design of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilators. The solution will be specifically designed to address urgent needs during the pandemic and will include essential functions required to safely treat COVID-19 patients.
3M will work with Ford to develop more of its powered air purifying respirators, which use a waist-mounted battery-powered blower to provide filtered air into a hood that helps provide respiratory protection for healthcare workers. The two plan to combine their complementary capabilities and resources to increase production of personal protective equipment needed to meet the surge in patients that is expected to take place during the pandemic.
The partnerships with Ford are just two examples of the numerous endeavors that manufacturers both in and outside of healthcare are undertaking to help hospitals address the outbreak. Medtronic and Philips, for instance, have both announced plans to boost production of PPE for healthcare workers. Tesla and Apple supplier Foxconn have adjusted their production lines to manufacture ventilators, masks and other supplies, and like Ford, Honda, General Motors and Rolls Royce are working with governments and healthcare providers to help produce necessary equipment.
In addition to its agreement with Ford, GE recently placed its ventilator production on a "round-the-clock" schedule
, and is hiring additional workers to support increased production. 3M has also doubled its global output of N95 respirators to a rate of more than 1.1 billion per year and is producing 35 million per month in the U.S., with more than 90 percent designated for healthcare workers.
“We’re exploring all available opportunities to further expand 3M’s capacity and get healthcare supplies as quickly as possible to where they’re needed most — which includes partnering with other great companies like Ford,” said Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer, in a statement. “It’s crucial that we mobilize all resources to protect lives and defeat this disease, and I’m incredibly grateful to Ford and their employees for this partnership.”