Business & Industry From cars to Covid: SA motor giant uses empty factories to produce...

From cars to Covid: SA motor giant uses empty factories to produce face shields for front-line personnel

Ford SA is stepping up amid the shortage of crucial Covid-19 face shields for emergency services workers

Ford protective face shields
Ford SA has begun production of protective face shields at its Silverton plant for donation to medical and essential personnel battling Covid-19 (Image: Ford)

As South Africa battles the escalating Covid-19 pandemic, motor manufacturer Ford has started producing protective face shields which will be donated to front-line medical and essential services personnel most at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

The face shields, along with N95 face masks which can be worn under the shields, have been deemed by the government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a crucial part of personal protective equipment for medical personnel who are at the greatest risk of exposure to the virus.

The face shields will also be made available to the police, military and those responsible for transporting workers in the essential services industries.

Ford – which has begun the production of 57,000 face shields – wants to ramp up production to at least half a million, and has approached its suppliers and business partners to help.

“With the face shields in critically short supply, we are dedicating our resources and manpower to produce the face shields as quickly as possible.”

Ockert Berry, vice-president of operations for Ford in South Africa

Manufacturing capacity turns to Covid-19

“With South Africa on lockdown and our plants not operating at the moment, we felt that it was essential for us to use our manufacturing capacity and expertise to contribute to the efforts of the South African government, private healthcare institutions and humanitarian organisations to contain the spread of Covid-19, and to care for those infected with the virus,” Berry says.

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The shields, which wrap around the user’s face, are being produced to global health standards, using a clear polyethylene shield, polyurethane foam padding and an elastic latex fabric headband to keep it in place.

Each unit is packaged with clear instructions on how to wear the shield correctly, along with cleaning and storage guidelines. They are designed to be reusable and sanitised after each use.

This initiative ties in with the humanitarian efforts of Ford SA’s parent company, Ford Motor Company in the US, to produce face shields and partnering with GE Healthcare to manufacture ventilators at its Michigan plants.

Individuals and companies wishing to contribute to this initiative can send an e-mail to socialme@ford.com, using the reference: Ford SA COVID-19. The relevant banking details will be supplied. All contributions will exclusively be used to purchase the kits for the face shields. Ford is covering all the labour costs for assembly and packaging, and supplier companies are assisting with materials, boxes and other packaging materials, as well as transport.

Share your Covid-19 #lockdown experiences on our Facebook group, Lockdown Diaries South Africa.