Non-medical companies respond to mask and ventilator manufacturing appeals amidst shortage, says GlobalData

The overwhelming demand for masks and ventilators is forcing governments across the globe to look for alternate manufacturers, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

As tracked by GlobalData’s news database, companies across alternate industries and geographies have started mask and ventilator production.

Several automotive manufacturers have ramped up the production of masks and ventilators to mitigate the growing shortages. For example, auto giant General Motors (GM) has partnered with Ventec Life Systems to manufacture ventilators at the Kokomo electric components plant. At its Warren plant in Michigan, GM also aims to manufacture surgical masks at a rate of 50,000 per day while being capable of doubling the capacity.

In addition, GM’s counterpart Ford is working with General Electric (GE) Healthcare to increase ventilator production, while also developing a simplified ventilator system to build at its plants. Ford is also collaborating with 3M to manufacture N95 respirator masks. 3M, the major manufacturer of the N95 mask, is struggling to keep up production and had increased yearly production to 1.1 billion from 400 million.

Other auto makers such as Toyota, Tesla and Fiat Chrysler have also stepped in to produce face shields, ventilators and masks respectively.

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Due to severe shortages of medical equipment in the US and Europe, diverse industry consortiums have also been set up do deal with the issue. One example is the consortium set up by Microsoft and Dell which include a plethora of companies such as Airbus, Ford, Siemens, Unilever, Rolls-Royce and several F1 teams.”

Retail companies such as Ralph Lauren, Nike and Under Armour have also stepped up, to manufacture masks, gowns and face shields. On its earnings call, Nike commented on its partnership with Oregon Health & Science University to develop and produce face shields.

While Ralph Lauren has ramped up its US manufacturing base to produce 250,000 masks and 50,000 gowns, other fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and COS have also responded to the shortage by producing surgical masks.

Virgin Orbit and Xerox are other companies that have large scale plans to produce ventilators.

Bose concludes: “Despite many companies stepping up to produce ventilators and masks, the sheer size of the virus’ impact is yet to be known. With lockdowns and closures likely to continue well into May 2020, several other companies with diverse production and innovative capabilities will be called upon to steady the supply-demand curve.”

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