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Ford-UAW makes 1M face shields in 13 days, delivers 30,000 to New York

Day after day, Marcy Fisher thinks of her son’s fiancee working on the front lines as an ICU nurse at the University of Michigan hospital.

“It’s all very real,” Fisher said Sunday. “It’s very personal, and she’s just one person. Then you imagine the rest of the country and all of the other people doing the same thing she is. And that’s who we’re doing this for.”

Fisher, as director of global body exterior and interior engineering at Ford Motor Co., assumed a team leader role on the company’s face shield and respirator effort. Within two weeks of working around the clock on design and production, the team at Troy Design and Manufacturing in Plymouth actually produced their one millionth face shield over the weekend.

“What’s driving us is the unending demand on the front lines for this equipment from the hospitals and first responders all around the country and here in the Detroit area,” said Fisher from her Bloomfield Hills home. “I feel like there’s more desperation in their requests this week than even last week.”

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Ford executives issued a call to action March 19, after receiving an alert from the Mayo Clinic, and worked up a plan to address the personal protective equipment shortage. 

Within hours, the automaker decided to pivot from building cars to manufacturing medical devices, setting into motion the first steps that would generate tens of thousands of protective face shields for doctors, nurses and first responders during the rapidly spreading pandemic.

On March 23, the first 1,000 face shields were made. By March 26, Ford would deliver thousands to Henry Ford Hospital, Beaumont, Detroit Receiving and the first responders who did so much to save lives after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — the New York Police Department and New York Fire Department.

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