News | Published March 24 2020

Car firms switch to ventilator manufacture to aid coronavirus effort

Carmakers across the world have met government calls for help manufacturing face masks and ventilators during the coronavirus outbreak.

Fiat began to convert one car plant in China yesterday, with estimates in place that the factory will be able to produce around one million masks per month.

Mike Manley, the chief executive of the company, stated that the firm hopes to commence manufacturing in the coming weeks.

Other firms are also considering how best to make the manufacturing shift.

Tesla, General Motors and Ford have promised to help manufacture ventilators, while Nissan and Formula 1 teams in the UK have done the same.

The decision follows the FDA’s reduction in barriers to approve medical devices in the hope of accelerating the production of ventilations.

Alex Azar, the US Health and Human Services said that: "Medical device makers can more easily make changes to existing products, such as changes to suppliers or materials, to help address current manufacturing limitations or supply shortages.

"Other manufacturers, such as auto makers, can more easily repurpose production lines to help increase supply."

Experts have warned that the move from manufacturing cars to manufacturing medical equipment may not be as easy as anticipated.

The head of Hamilton Medical, Jens Hallek, said that manufacturing the machines requires “specialised knowhow” and is a “highly specific” role.

He continued: "These are extremely sensitive machines with not only a lot of hardware, but also a lot of software. If one of the components does not work correctly, the whole machine shuts down and cannot be used any more.”

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
March 24 2020

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