DEARBORN – On the morning of Thursday, March 19, the clock started ticking. How fast could Ford Motor Company employees work to pivot the company’s engineering, manufacturing, supply chain and management expertise to producing and delivering critical medical supplies in response to a growing coronavirus pandemic?
That morning, the Mayo Clinic alerted Ford to a serious shortage of supplies and asked for help. Without hesitation, Ford jumped in with both feet and immediately formed a personal protective equipment task force. Within hours, the small group had consulted with hospitals and medical suppliers – identifying face shields, respirators and ventilators as critical needs. By 4:30 p.m., the face shield project kicked off.
A small group of managers, designers and prototypers laid out a work path and began making calls. Ford designers in Detroit and Palo Alto labs spent Friday working through designs and figuring out manufacturing feasibility, eventually settling on an open source design developed by University of Wisconsin and Delve. After consulting with the design originator and representatives from Detroit area hospitals, a finalized design was settled on and it was time to set up production.
In rapid order, prototypes were fabricated in cooperation with RCO Engineering in Troy, Michigan, followed by the first run of 1,000 face shields, all built entirely by hand on site there. In parallel, full-scale production was being planned at Troy Design and Manufacturing, a Ford subsidiary. Within 72 hours of the first request, the prototype production run parts were approved by hospital representatives. By Sunday evening, suppliers were identified to deliver components for a full-scale start of production Monday morning.
All day Sunday, purchasing set up suppliers in the system, then these companies moved at breakneck pace to deliver parts to Troy Design and Manufacturing, with some parts overnighted from across the country. Already, it was clear contingency designs and suppliers would be required as stocks of elastic bands would be exhausted within days, so alternates were reviewed and approved. The Ford office of general counsel and the FDA granted approval for the finished parts. The first 1,000 face shields were delivered to area hospitals by 11 Monday morning, and production kicked off at Troy Design and Manufacturing. By that evening, 6,000 face shields had been made and delivered.
On Tuesday, first responder fleets were contacted, then material planning and logistics arranged for expedited delivery to New York and Los Angeles. The material supply of elastic straps was growing thin, so contingency designs by other suppliers were being investigated Cooper Standard opened its doors at 4 in the morning on Wednesday to produce samples of new rubber straps, which were approved by 8 a.m. Production ramped up at Troy Design and Manufacturing throughout the day, and a total of more than 23,000 face shields were built and delivered by close of business Wednesday.
By Thursday, it was forecasted that rubber parts would be exhausted by Sunday morning, so two contingency designs were greenlit and put into production. Even so, 32,000 units were built that day, an astounding 93,000 on Friday and 132,000 on Saturday.
When Bill Ford made a public announcement of the plan to supply face shields, he said the goal was to produce 100,000 a week, but that wasn’t actually the goal the team was targeting. The real goal was 1 million a week – more if possible. The supply chain stepped up over the weekend, ensuring those numbers were feasible with the right processes and production lines in place.
Most everyone involved at all levels of this project asked not to be the focus of the story, but one employee whose regular job is handling launches sums up the enormous effort that has made it a success: “This is the single most impressive team effort I’ve ever seen out of Ford and its suppliers. It’s incredible to see every part of Ford pull together, departments you didn’t even know existed, and the drive to make this happen – never taking no for an answer and pulling off the impossible, because we all know how important this is.”
This monumental effort is what makes the employees of Ford Motor Company exceptional. Everyone involved is a hand-raiser – dedicating their time, talent and expertise to getting this incredibly important job done. To date, more than 1,200,000 face shields have been delivered to first responders and medical staff across the country, thanks to everyday Ford employees and suppliers.
Below are some of the individuals who have worked on and continue to work on the face shield project. They deserve to be recognized for their efforts.
Ford Motor Company
Marcy Fisher, body engineering director
Dan Ferretti, interior cockpit and trim chief engineer
Marc Kondrad, lead engineer stationed at Roush
Edu Cancellara, purchasing director
Jackie Watt, interior purchasing director
Steve McMillin – Purchasing manager
Shinya Takada, purchasing manager, lead for foam and shield
Brian Lloyd, purchasing lead for elastic
Steve Skikun, electrical lead for Ford police program, contact to major departments
Howard Lew, Vehicle Systems Engineer, project coordinator
Heidi Dibble, Vehicle Systems Engineer, workshare with Howard Lew
Craig Moccio, closures manager
Brad Lempke, packaging and logistics
Frank Mosquera, premium freight and logistics
Adrian Price – Manufacturing director
Marc Foresi – Manufacturing implementation manager
Sam Kafoury, manufacturing engineering
Ken Musgrave, D-Ford director
Martin Delonis, D-Ford
Will Brick, D-Ford
Jeff Sturges, D-Ford
Dave Singh, D-Ford
Clayton Ford, D-Ford
Kelly Miller, D-Ford
Anne Goering, D-Ford