According to foreign media SlashGear reports, Ford has begun accepting orders for ventilators. These rapidly designed personal protective equipment will be sent to hospitals and other medical facilities to protect workers from the new coronavirus. As early as April, the automaker turned an idle factory and nearly a hundred workers to build a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR), and said it has produced 10,000 devices since then.
PAPR is designed to isolate medical personnel and potentially dangerous pollutants such as the COVID-19 virus spread in body fluids. They consist of a hood and face mask and a HEPA filter system, designed to provide clean air to the wearer. Ford has been designing with 3M, and this company already has its own PAPR. However, the difference here is that the Ford version needs to bypass the traditional medical equipment supply chain as much as possible, because the shortage is a bottleneck. Instead, it switched to using off-the-shelf parts that are more familiar in its vehicles to meet demand.
Therefore, its ventilator system is similar to the design of the ventilated seats on the Ford F-150 truck. The rechargeable battery originally used for power tools can keep the HEPA filter system running for up to 8 hours. It was developed by Stanley Black & Decker, using a custom harness and standard 3.0Ah and 5.0Ah batteries, which can be exchanged at any time to keep PAPR running in a long shift.
Ford said that a total of more than ten companies in the automotive supply chain have provided PAPR with new off-the-shelf parts. This includes the top of the hood-taking into account the opinions of the car decoration team-and the various controls and electronic components involved. Now, with the manufacturing volume of 10,000 units and the production capacity of 100,000 units, Ford claims that the automaker is accepting orders. A new Ford PPE demand website has been set up for organizations to register.
They need to be hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care institutions or emergency personnel, or PPE donor institutions or similar institutions to be eligible. Ford also does not work in quantities of one or two units: it will be delivered to PAPR in the form of pallets. In addition, 3M will sell and distribute through its own network and be responsible for technical support.
These devices will have a certain price, but Ford said that profits beyond the production cost will be donated to non-profit organizations related to COVID-19. The first batch of PAPR has been delivered to the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.