One of the cruelest situations in this whole Coronavirus pandemic is the lack of some relatively simple but utterly essential equipment for those who either are afflicted with the virus, or those who are caring for them.
I'm talking about respirators, ventilators and sometimes just simple clear plastic face shields.
A lot of American companies are trying to find out how they can pivot and become makers of this gear, one of them who's done the fastest work to do exactly that is Ford.
And now let's find out how they're doing it.
Joining me now is Marcy Fisher, who is the global body exterior and interior engineering director at Ford, Marcy, nice to have you with us.
Okay, so Marcy, let's get started here and first of all explain we hear so much about American industry trying to jump in and see where it fits to make PPE personal protective equipment that's in shortage Ford's found a niche it seems pretty quickly, what parts or things are you guys making?
First one is something a real simple product that we're making which is a face shield.
So simple face shield made out of plastic.
Is that big clear thing that comes down, right?
Cheap and cheerful.
Yeah, right cheap and cheerful, but super, I bet it's real comforting.
For people on the frontlines to have a nice, big but totally visible cover.
And I tell you, the response on that just has been amazing.
So, we quickly went into how we design this thing.
So we reverse engineered it.
Saw some open source on the Web and Started with that and then modified based on materials that we could find so>> And you got a bunch of your UAW workforce to kind of pivot from being on the line as I understand it to going into some different shops, and they're just making this stuff.
They're absolutely making a piece of foam and, and a shield and some elastic that goes around the back that they stapled together, so We make make one about every 15 seconds,a little faster than a mini car
[LAUGH] A little faster than a no.
Not a lot faster sometimes but a little faster than a car you guys crank up the cars pretty fast to.
Now I guess next up in complexity from the face shields you're making would be respirators, but most of us are thinking of respirators as those N95 fibre masks, you're making a much more complex type of respirator
This is a device that essentially is a power source filter and a blower.
It's made up in a little pack, you wear it on your back with a little belt around it.
And then it has an air tube that comes up in over your head with a hood.
And what that does is it essentially just blows filtered air.
Up and over and down your face.
So you keep positive air pressure, which means, when somebody coughs.
When, for example, when a health worker is incubating somebody.
You know, the patient coughs, right.
So what this does is this ensures that they've got filtered air that's always coming down over their face.
Now I have a I read an interesting couple of notes and I think I've seen an actual sketch you guys put out that was one of your first sketches you did within Ford.
You're using a part from an F 150 seat build, is that right?
So that was our initial concept.
And, you know, the first thing they thought of was, well, a blower motor.
How do we get these things into production quickly, so we're working with 3am.
And so we wanted to do a simplified version.
Of theirs that we could design and get into production really quickly.
So the team starts thinking about all right, so what do we have off the shelf that we can use?
All right, we need a blower motor.
Hm, we have those in our ventilated heated and cooled seats, so we go into the parts bin and we start pulling them off.
There's one Series there's so many of the vehicles so we pulled all those off the shelf and said, hey, what you know which one provides the right output for us that we need.
So we kind of sorted through all those and we ended up with With two of them one was the F 150.
And one is another product from one of our suppliers.
So the air hose that goes from the power of and blower motor up through to the hood area that we had to tool.
We don't have anything but what we did is we pulled in our experts within the company who designed Tubing.
Okay so that right?
Sure there's plenty of tubing in the car just not that exact kind.
And then we needed a fuse.
So for the motor so we We call the depth fuse expert within Ford and say get on a phone call with us.
We size this fuse for us and and you know and then we need a circuit board so then we pull in our guys that know circuit board so so it's a bit of a combination of now how power source you know, we just.
We're getting something that's literally off the shelf.
For the actual battery that goes in there.
And then if you think about the hood itself that that's material, it's cutting so Okay, well we do a lot of cutting.
So for seats, literally within a week we've established a design we've made 3D parts.
Printing out and getting things on tests.
We've had some pretty what we'll call scrappy prototypes.
[LAUGH] A little rough around the edges maybe Yeah,
And a little duct tape out Some of the technical sides of it
Getting some proof out done quick
Let me ask you this about 3D printing.
You mentioned Adam there and I know typically 3D printing is used in your industry for prototyping, are you actually able to print finished parts for this new effort with 3D printing
For this effort we're not because the volumes that we're trying to go for The speed at which we're trying to do those the 3d printing isn't isn't going to be fast enough for us and spit out enough part.
What kind of volumes are we talking about here?
How many of these different things that you're making Are you able to turn out or hoping too soon,
by the end of the week this week, we made over 150,000
And this week we're gonna crank that up and our target is to get to a million
A million in a week and,
Requests are coming, the requests keep coming.
Talk about pulling people together the number of people within the Ford team and our supply base etc have reached out to offer their support or help.
What can we do?
It's been overwhelming.
So everyone wants to do whatever it is that they can do to help.
And then the second piece is when you get some feedback from the field where somebody posts something and says.
Hey, thank you for helping keep me safe.
It makes it very personal.
And I'll tell you that just makes you want to go through walls and we're breaking the records on all the things that sometimes in a big company get in your way we just need to draw back.
Give us a little kind of a flashback.
What was the scenario like when the word came down from On high that said, Yeah, let's devote resources to this.
And and what was what was that first day like calling people together and what was the word?
What was the marching order?
A team that works on the climate control system in your vehicle works works in my team.
And so they're really all right.
That's our that's team and for that knows air handling systems.
That's essentially what you're climbing.
So that's the first call.
So then you start to call the technical experts and in the field and You know, they all jump right in and you're in it within an hour.
you're off and running.
Okay, what are we talking about?
Who do we need to pull in?
Yeah, so we mobilised the team.
We could go Friday and, obviously working on.
Working the weekends working till late at night, early in the morning collaborating.
We've had some people, you know, go places that when they needed to physically be in a test facility or something like that.
So just the whole team coming together with just a massive sense of urgency and move in the mountains that need to be moved to.
Well, I think it's pretty clear that we're lucky to have Detroit Right now, we always are but particularly in this moment where we have, I don't think anywhere else in the country can say we have this much manufacturing scale of products that are complex with management, supply chain, and engineering all pulled together in a very tight cohesive network.
And yet apparently from what I'm hearing Able to like a well designed car turn on a dime.
Yeah, we're humbled, but we're honored to be able to help.
What do you think's gonna stick from this experience is very unusual experience that you guys will take back into mainstream car making.
The constraints that we think are constraints.
Sometimes I think we all just experience something That we can remove the constraints, the roadblocks, the time lags and things like that.
And we can move faster.
So, I think that'll change us forever.
I think this whole pandemic is gonna change itself forever in lots of different ways.
But the ability to be agile and move fast And collaborate.
Everybody pulling together.
It's just the spirit of that is amazing.
And I think in the future we'll say remember when [LAUGH] And we'll say we can do it