Ford is using airbag material to make reusable hospital gowns to fight Covid-19
Ford is expanding its efforts to design and produce urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for health care workers, first responders and patients fighting coronavirus.
In addition to the current production of more than 3 million face shields in Plymouth, Ford-designed powered air-purifying respirator production has also begun from April 14. Ford also is now producing face masks and leading an effort to scale production of reusable gowns for health care workers.
Along with airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems, Ford has created re-usable gowns manufactured from material used to make airbags in Ford vehicles.
Production of gowns will reach 75,000 gowns a week by Sunday and scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19 and beyond. By July 4, Ford-supplier Joyson Safety Systems will cut and sew 1.3 million gowns, which are self-tested to federal standards and are washable up to 50 times.
Ford worked with Beaumont Health in Metro Detroit to quickly design the gown pattern and test for sizing during fit and function trials. More than 5,000 gowns have already been delivered to the hospital.
“The need to protect our medical teams is heightened – Ford’s gown production could not come at a better time during this crisis," said David Claeys, president of Beaumont Health hospitals in Dearborn and Farmington Hills. “Our front line health care workers are working around the clock to treat Covid-19 patients and we need the necessary supplies to support them."
Ford is also manufacturing face masks for internal use globally and pursuing certification for medical use at its Van Dyke Transmission Plant. Ford’s global manufacturing and purchasing teams quickly sourced the necessary materials and equipment from its network of equipment manufacturers around the world. Production began earlier this week.
Approximately 30 UAW paid volunteers will start making masks in the plant’s ISO Class 8 cleanroom, which is a controlled environment with extremely low levels of pollutants, enabling the safe production of face masks for medical use. Eventually, approximately 80 UAW paid volunteers will make masks as production increases.
“UAW Ford members continue to step up and volunteer to work during this difficult time as we expand at the facility across from Flat Rock to make respirators and at the Van Dyke Transmission Plant to make face masks for medical use," said Gerald Kariem, vice president, UAW Ford Department. “The UAW also continues to work with Ford to follow stringent CDC guidelines and go above and beyond protections for these members who are so proudly volunteering to serve their communities and their nation."