Ford to produce 50,000 Airon ventilators in Michigan in next 100 days; partnering with GE Healthcare
Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, will begin producing in Michigan the Airon pNeuton model A ventilator with the goal to produce 50,000 of the needed units within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month thereafter as needed. Established in 1997, Airon Corporation is a privately held company; its patented CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and ventilation technology has been in clinical use since 1986.
The pNeuton model A with built-in CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is suited for critical care adult or pediatric patient support in hospital environments. With simple-to-use controls—Tidal Volume, Respiratory Rate, and Pressure Limit—pNeuton A can provide volume-targeted or pressure-limited ventilation. The built-in high output demand flow CPAP system insures critical care ventilation needs are optimized for spontaneous and mandatory breaths.
GE Heathcare and Ford consulted with medical experts in determining the Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator is well suited for COVID-19 patient care. The GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing the needs of most COVID-19 patients.
The design is expected to meet the needs of most COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. The ventilator is designed for quick setup, making it easy for healthcare workers to use and can be deployed in an emergency room setting, during special procedures or in an intensive care unit, wherever the patient may be located.
Ford will provide its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production, and GE Healthcare will provide its clinical expertise and will license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp., a small, privately held company specializing in high-tech pneumatic life support products. GE Healthcare brought the Airon Corp. design to Ford’s attention as part of the companies’ efforts to scale production of ventilators quickly to help clinicians treat COVID-19 patients.
Ford will initially send a team to work with Airon to boost production in Florida, and by the week of 20 April, will start production at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., quickly ramping up to reach full production to help meet surging demand.
Ford expects to produce 1,500 by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May and 50,000 by 4 July, helping the US government meet its goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.
Ford’s Rawsonville plant will produce the ventilators nearly around the clock, with 500 paid volunteer UAW-represented employees working on three shifts. Airon currently produces three Airon pNeuton Model A ventilators per day in Melbourne, Fla. At full production, Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week.
The Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilator is the second Ford-GE Healthcare ventilator collaboration. Last week, Ford and GE Healthcare announced a separate effort to produce a simplified ventilator design from GE Healthcare. The combined ventilator supply will help address the increasing surge demand for ventilators around the US in the fight against COVID-19, each well suited to meet time, production volume and patient care requirements.
Ford, along with the companies it is supporting, will provide additional updates as these special projects progress.