Ford Motors and GE Healthcare are building 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days for a facility in Michigan, USA, said the automaker on Monday, March 30. The companies are said to be on the path to produce 1,500 critical care machines by the end of April. By the end of May, the target is said to be 12,000 and the project would be done by July 4, 2020.
GE Healthcare from Florida-based Airon Corp, a small, privately held company specializing in high-tech pneumatic life support products will be holding the license for the design of the ventilators. The devices will function on air pressure without the help of electricity. Ford does not have any private customers for purchase hence, it is working with government officials to meet the demand.
Ford has also partnered with 3M to manufacture air-purifying respirator recently. This is a second automaker company to set plans to build ventilators. Previously, General Motors had also announced their plans to build ventilators in the factories of Kokomo, Ind, with Ventec Life Systems, a ventilator manufacturer. Tesla has also mentioned its plans to build ventilators with Medtronic at a factory in Buffalo.
Industrial Division of Communication Workers of America union's demand
GE has the largest share of workers from the Industrial Division of Communication Workers of America union. They demanded that the company use workers for such purposes. The company's Aviation Unit is cutting 10 percent of its working unit which is around 2,600 workers.
The Ford shares had also fallen on Monday. The shares closed in at $5.03. The announcement about working on the ventilators comes just 3 days after the US President ordered GE to build ventilators under the Defense Production Act. Trump also criticised GE for not acting sooner during the time of need. Since then GE has said that they will ramp up the production by more than 10,000 machines per month.
What is the Defense Production Act?
The Act which was enacted in 1950 was in response to the Korean War. It has been periodically been amended and has been in force since then. The act has three major parts that priorities certain matters that can come into effect during a national situation. The president can have the businesses prioritise and accept contracts that are in line with the national defense at the time of need.
Ford has already lost two employees to the COVID-19 and the numbers in the US continue to rise ad the death toll surpassed 3,000 on Monday.