How automakers fight coronavirusMarch 28, 2020
Even before Trump’s orders, automakers were preparing to make masks, respirators and fans to help patients with coronavirus.
This may be a little unorganized, even chaotic, but the Arsenal of Democracy is gaining momentum as the auto industry struggles to help healthcare providers fight the pandemic. Automakers and suppliers are building partnerships and refitting inactive factories for the manufacture of masks, respirators, fans and protective equipment.
So, for more than a week, General Motors has been working with partners to start the production of surgical masks and fans at their former enterprises to combat the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with the Law on Defense Production, giving the government the power to determine how many fans to produce. About 1,000 GM employees in the United States are immediately involved in this work. The company makes available its resources at cost.
Ford is engaged in 3D printing of face shields to be handed over to medical personnel as soon as possible. The automaker plans to collect 100,000 billboards per week. Ford is also known to have collected more than 200,000 masks from around the world and donated them. Another initiative is to collaborate with 3M and GE to design and manufacture 3D printers of air-cleaning respiratory masks and fans based on the technology of the F-150 pickup truck’s ventilated seats.
FCA will make masks in China and hand them over to emergency and health care workers in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and later in other countries. After an increase in production, more than 1 million masks per month will come from China. The distribution of the masks will be carried out in consultation with national, regional and city officials who can determine the most requested areas. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari previously stated that they are exploring the possibility of producing fans in Italy.
Toyota Motor North America said it will use some of its tools, including 3D printing, to make face shields and is working with suppliers of medical equipment to accelerate the production of fans, respirators and other vital devices for hospitals, mass production of which will begin with next week. In addition, the Japanese automaker offers engineering and manufacturing support to medical companies that want to increase capacity.
Tesla CEO Ilon Musk tweeted offers of help and agreed to donate hundreds of fans to New York’s intensive care units. Tesla is currently working on locating and delivering existing fans, and the company has purchased and donated over 1,200 fans and many masks in California. It remains unclear whether Tesla will be engaged in their production.
Supplier Magna International says it is ready to ramp up the production of a disinfectant device designed to remove odors and bacteria in hockey equipment that can be in hospitals to kill coronavirus with personal protective equipment. A Canadian vendor needs a testing partner to test it first.
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