These Brands Have Begun Manufacturing Medical Supplies

Car companies, luxury fashion brands, general retailers, and more are rearranging supply chains to support COVID-19 supply shortages.

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Need to Know

  • Ford has begun working with 3M, GE and UAW to quickly expand production of urgently needed medical equipment including Powered Air-Purifying Respirators, ventilators, and plastic face shields. 
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is poised to start manufacturing one million face masks a month to be donated to first responders and healthcare workers. 
  • Many hospitals look to “worldwide hackathons”, crowdsourcing and 3D printing to help with product shortages of critical supplies like face shields and valves needed to run respirators. 
  • Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Gucci, Zara, and even H&M have all begun rearranging their supply chains to start manufacturing face masks to help with the shortages being experienced around the world.

Analysis

The list of brands shifting their production lines to meet the demands of the coronavirus crisis is growing daily. From fashion houses to car manufactures, brands are swiftly switching their supply chains in an effort to ease the strain placed on the world’s healthcare systems. 

The Ford Motor Company is joining forces with 3M and GE Healthcare to create air-purifying respirators, ventilators, and more than 100,000 3D printed face shields per week. 

“This is such a critical time for America and the world. It’s a time for action and cooperation. By coming together across multiple industries, we can make a real difference for people in need and for those on the front lines of this crisis,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman in a statement on their website

In a similar effort, car manufacturer Fiat Chrysler has modified a production factory in China to start manufacturing face masks to donate to first responders and healthcare workers in the US, Canada, and Mexico. 

“We’ve marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic,” FCA CEO Mike Manley said in a statement. 

Fashion brands have also followed suit and switched their production lines from clothing to mask manufacturing. Prada announced plans to produce 110,000 masks by 6 April, while Gucci has plans to make more than 1 million. Zara has also donated 10,000 surgical masks and has plans for another 300,000 by the end of the week. 

The 3D printing community is also offering its support as many startups have begun creating much needed and hard to find items like the valves that connect respirators to oxygen masks, an item Italy is presently running short on. 

Around the world doctors, hospital technicians and 3D-printing specialists are working collaboratively using apps like WhatsApp and online databases to share tips and instructions on how to build, fix and modify in-demand machines like ventilators used to treat patients with COVID-19.

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