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Air Liquide, Groupe PSA, Schneider Electric, Valeo to produce respirators in response to the French government request

Faced with the compelling need for more respirators, the French government asked a group of French industrial companies led by Air Liquide to study the possibility of increasing the production of respirators so as to provide 10,000 respirators in 50 days, between the beginning of April and mid-May.

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In response, Air Liquide, Groupe PSA, Schneider Electric and Valeo have set up a Task Force composed of about 30 purchasing and industrialization experts in order to define an action plan to increase the production of Air Liquide Medical Systems respirators.

Air Liquide had already started the process of tripling its production capacities after the French Ministry of Health had confirmed mid-March a first order of 1,000 respirators to Air Liquide Medical Systems, a dedicated subsidiary of the Air Liquide Group. These intensive care respirators are already being produced by the teams located on the site in Antony, France, and two-thirds of that order will be delivered to health facilities by the end of April.

Given the need to sharply increase the number of respirators in the context of the worsening Covid-19 situation and in order to fulfill the French government’s request, formulated by Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of State, attached to the Minister of Economy and Finance, to supply a total of 10,000 respirators in 50 days, Air Liquide is coordinating a working group bringing together Groupe PSA, Schneider Electric and Valeo. This has resulted in a proposal to the Government on March 27 to supply two models of Air Liquide Medical Systems respirators, which will be delivered in six weeks.

To meet this industrial challenge, the contribution of 100 partner companies will also be sought so as to provide the 300 essential components that are necessary for the fabrication of these medical systems. The purchasing experts of Air Liquide Medical Systems are working in pairs with the dedicated experts of the other partners in each field (mechanics and electronics) so as to secure the supply all along the implementation of the project.

The production rates of certain respirators will be multiplied by up to 70 thanks to the implementation of three additional lines, with three teams working six days a week. A pre-assembly of the mechanical part of the respirators will be executed on the site of Groupe PSA in Poissy, France. The last phase of the assembly, the control, the quality deliverance will be achieved on the Antony site, by the teams of Air Liquide Medical Systems.

In addition to its participation in the task force which has mobilized its engineers full time since March 22, Groupe PSA is directly contributing to increasing production potential with the creation of a specific workshop in its Poissy factory with more than fifty volunteer employees, in order to be able to start producing the central block of the system, under the conditions of the reinforced health protocol implemented on its sites.

These elements will then be delivered to Air Liquide for assembly and final checks at the Air Liquide Medical Systems industrial site in Antony.

Air Liquide has committed to providing these respirators at cost and without passing on the exceptional costs induced by the implementation of this unprecedented industrial program. More than one hundred respirators per week will be delivered until mid-April, and then more than 1,000 per week.

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