3M (NYSE:MMM) and Ford Motor Co. announced that they are entering into a partnership in an effort to increase the production of 3M’s PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators) in response to the shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The two companies plan to collaborate on specific means to rapidly combine each others’ capabilities and resources to meet the latest surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York was one of several healthcare facilities that reported shortages in protective equipment like masks and respirators. Earlier this month, reports claimed that some U.S. hospitals were facing short supplies of N95 respirator masks from 3M. The company said in a news release on March 2 that its plant in Aberdeen, S.D., is running around the clock producing the masks.
Maplewood, Minn.-based 3M’s PAPRs are designed with a waist-mounted, battery-powered blower that sends filtered air into a hood to give the user 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,” 3M chairman of the board & CEO Mike Roman said in a news release. “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,” added Ford president & CEO Jim Hackett. “We are also volunteering our facilities for additional production.”
3M said it has doubled its global output of the N95 masks, producing the equipment at a rate of more than 1.1 billion respirators per year, or nearly 100 million per month. That number is up to 35 million per month in the U.S., with more than 90% designated for healthcare workers.