Ford Motor Co.’s production of ventilators may have come to end but the company plans to continue making the personal protection equipment needed by health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, Ford, in partnership with the UAW, has produced more than 72 million pieces of personal protective equipment to meet the enormous demand due to the crisis.
Those pieces included: 50,000 patient ventilators, 45 million faces masks and 20 million face shields, more than 32,000 powered air-purifying ventilators and 1.4 million washable isolation gowns used by nurses and physicians. The ventilators were produced under a contract with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Ford is preparing to produce a total of 100 million masks through 2021 for communities across the U.S. with limited access to personal protective equipment. The company, currently manufacturing 2.5 million medical-grade masks a week for its employees and at-risk communities, is growing the number of mask-making machines by mid- to late-October to increase production and deliver on its goal, the company said.
“As the pandemic continues, so does the spirit, grit and dedication of our Ford team and UAW partners to step up and contribute to help our country,” said Jim Hackett, Ford president and CEO, in a statement. “Working together, we’re setting a goal of producing 100 million masks for families, children, individuals and communities who need them most.”
Ford is working with Ford Motor Company Fund, the company’s philanthropic arm, to identify donation recipients across the U.S. through a network of nonprofit and state and local partners. The company is focusing on military veterans, schools, food banks and African American communities, among others.
Last week, the fund shipped 10 million face masks to the National Urban League, American Red Cross, Disabled American Veterans and other local organizations to protect against COVID-19.
This announcement comes ahead of a new short documentary by award-winning director Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights,” “Patriots Day,” “Lone Survivor”) titled “On the Line,” which appeared on You Tube during the Labor Day Weekend.
The documentary focuses on Ford’s Project Apollo, the internal code name for the company’s effort to design and manufacture personal protective equipment, including powered air-purifying respirators, face shields, medical gowns for health care workers and first responders, plus ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
Berg’s documentary features members of Ford’s Project Apollo team – from the engineers who led the project to the UAW team members who volunteered to work at the height of the pandemic.
“Just weeks into the virus, with most people sheltering at home and so many lives on the line, the duty and sacrifice shown by the Ford team and UAW to put aside their personal concerns and go to work to provide what the country needed represented the absolute best of our country,” said Berg. “‘On the Line’ commemorates those heroic efforts and shows that no matter what challenges we may face, when we come together, we can do great things.”
To commemorate release of the documentary, the Aspen Institute, as part of the “Aspen Ideas Now” virtual speaker series, featured a conversation with Hackett, UAW President Rory Gamble and Berg, exploring the state of the American labor force.
“At a time when the virus was new and equipment was sparse, UAW members volunteered to go into the plants and make personal protective equipment that helped save lives,” said Gamble. “I could not be prouder of their commitment and dedication. Our UAW Ford members on Project Apollo and throughout the union have added a new chapter in our long history of serving our nation in dire times of need.”