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Ford, GE Healthcare to make 50,000 ventilators to fight coronavirus

Ford Motor and GE Healthcare announced on Monday plans to produce 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days with the support of 500 United Auto Workers employees in Michigan to help in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

A new simple ventilator design, licensed by GE Healthcare from Florida-based Airon Corp., operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, officials explained during a conference call.

“The reduction in complexity allows us to move more swiftly,” said Jim Baumbick, vice president of enterprise product line management at Ford.

The two companies will “leverage” the design of Airon Corp.’s FDA-approved ventilator and work with UAW members to build the GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator, starting the week of April 20 at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Baumbick said.

A Model A-E ventilator, left, and a simple test lung. The ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Its production can be quickly scaled to help meet growing demand in the U.S.

It is the automaker’s manufacturing experience that attracted GE Healthcare, which brings the clinical oversight and will license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp. — a small, privately held company specializing in high-tech pneumatic life support products, the news release said.

It was GE Healthcare that brought the Airon Corp. design to Ford’s attention as part of the companies’ efforts to scale production of ventilators quickly to help during this pandemic, the Ford release said.

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