Air-Purifying Aid: 3M and Ford partnering to increase respirator production

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— 3M and Ford Motor Company are partnering to increase the production of 3M’s powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs).

3M and Ford are collaborating on specific ways the companies can rapidly combine complementary capabilities and resources to help meet a surge in demand for personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

3M’s powered air-purifying respirators use a waist-mounted, battery-powered blower that sends filtered air into a hood that helps provide respiratory protection for workers, including those in healthcare. 3M’s PAPR systems can offer a more comfortable user experience for wearers who need respiratory protection for an extended period of time.

“We’re exploring all available opportunities to further expand 3M’s capacity and get healthcare supplies as quickly as possible to where they’re needed most – which includes partnering with other great companies like Ford,” said Mike Roman, 3M chairman of the board and chief executive officer. “It’s crucial that we mobilize all resources to protect lives and defeat this disease, and I’m incredibly grateful to Ford and their employees for this partnership.”

“3M is providing vital personal protective equipment for medical workers and we’ve empowered our engineers and designers to move as quickly as possible to help 3M grow PAPR production using common parts to speed this up. We are also volunteering our facilities for additional production,” said Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO.

Overall, 3M has doubled its global output of N95 respirators to a rate of more than 1.1 billion per year or nearly 100 million per month.

In the United States 3M is producing 35 million respirators per month; of these, more than 90 percent are now designated for healthcare workers, with the remaining deployed to other industries also critical in this pandemic, including energy, food and pharmaceutical companies.

The company is also maximizing the production of a wide range of other products used in the COVID-19 response globally including hand sanitizers, disinfectants and filtration solutions as the pharmaceutical industry works to find a vaccine to fight the virus.

The move comes shortly after Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association president Flavio Volpe called upon the industry to provide additional medical equipment to official organizations and medical centres during the crisis.

Justin Trudeau also said Ottawa will provide “support for those who want to retool their manufacturing facilities to contribute to this fight.”

“We have had more than 5,800 submissions from companies offering goods or services to combat COVID-19. We are planning for the future by considering both current and anticipated needs,” said Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

Canada’s decision to enlist manufacturers in the fight against COVID-19 follows similar moves elsewhere, including in France, where conglomerate LVMH is producing hand sanitizer for hospitals on production lines that previously made Dior and Givenchy luxury perfumes. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also asked Ford, Honda, Rolls-Royce and other manufacturers to meet the soaring demand for ventilators and other health-care equipment.

You can do your part by contacting your local medical centre and donating any unused equipment⁠—such as face masks, painting suits, ventilators, etc. 

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