SEAT and Ford have both confirmed that they are switching off car production to concentrate on much-needed medical ventilators to help beat the coronavirus, while Lamborghini is making protective gear for medical teams.
Production line is now 'unrecognisable'
SEAT says that its Leon production line at its Martorell factory in Barcelona is: "almost unrecognisable." Cars are no longer being manufactured, instead, automated ventilators are being produced in collaboration with the Spanish healthcare system.
"The motivation of everyone participating in this project is that with our know-how we can mass-produce equipment that will save lives", explains Nicolás Mora from the Production area of SEAT Martorell.
Re-used windscreen wiper motor
SEAT's engineers have worked through 13 different ventilator prototypes, and have worked with medical systems experts at Protofy.XYZ to produce the final design. The ventilator features gears and gearbox shafts manufactured at Martorell, as well as a repurposed windscreen wiper motor.
According to SEAT, 150 employees from different areas of the business have changed their usual workstation to put together the ventilators where parts of the SEAT Leon used to be assembled. "Taking an assembly line that manufactures subframes, a car part, and adapting it to make ventilators has been a lengthy, difficult job involving many areas of the company, and we managed to do it in the record time of one week", says Sergio Arreciado from the Process Engineering area of SEAT. Each ventilator has more than 80 electronic and mechanical components and undergoes a thorough quality control check with ultraviolet light sterilisation.
Ford's ventilators don't need electricity
Meanwhile, in the US, Ford has said that it will start mass-producing as many as 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days at one of its components factories in Michigan.
The Ford Model A-E ventilator has been designed in collaboration with General Electric healthcare, and is a simplified design that can feed oxygen to the lungs of those suffering from the COVID-19 virus without any need for electrical power - it works from normal air pressure alone.
"The Ford and GE Healthcare teams, working creatively and tirelessly, have found a way to produce this vitally needed ventilator quickly and in meaningful numbers," said Jim Hackett, Ford's president and CEO. "By producing this ventilator in Michigan, in strong partnership with the UAW, we can help health care workers save lives, and that's our No. 1 priority."
Lamborghini making facemasks and shields
Meanwhile, in virus-ravaged Italy, Lamborghini is turning over some of its Sant Agata Bolognese factory to the making of face masks and protective shields to help a local hospital. The masks will be donated to the Sant'Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna to be used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The protective shields are being made using 3D printers in Lamborghini's carbon fibre production plant by the car maker's research and development department.
Stefano Domenicali, chairman and CEO of Lamborghini, said: "During this emergency, we feel the need to make a concrete contribution. The S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital is an institution with which we have had a collaborative relationship for years, through both professional consultancy in promoting programs to protect our workers' health, and in research projects. We will win this battle together by working in union, supporting those who are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic every day."