Industry

Lamborghini, Ikea, Ford, Etc. Pivot Business Model to Help Fight COVID-19

The companies are using their vast resources while their main businesses are shuttered.
IMAGE Lamborghini/ Wikimedia Commons/ Ford
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As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, companies forced to downscale their operations or shutter completely have found ways to pivot their businesses in order to contribute to efforts to stave of fthe pandemic. 

Instead of sitting idly by, these companies are using their resources to develop medical gear, face masks and personal protective equipment, and other items directly related to combat COVID-19. Here are a few of them:

1| Ikea

Ikea has reportedly decided to make face masks, hand sanitizers, visors and aprons for medical frontliners. Reuters reports that the company has already started delivering these items to hospital and medical facilities despite the fact that most of its stores in Europe have closed because of lockdown orders.

Tech publication Fast Company says that Ikea is producing full N95 respirators that help filter harmful viruses from the air better than regular cotton and paper masks. The Swedish furniture manufacturer plans to deliver 900,000 respirators this week, and will be producing “at least” a million a week for the next three weeks. Best of all, the company is donating all of it free of charge.

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2| Lamborghini

Italy is one of the hardest-hit countries of the coronavirus pandemic, but one of its best-known automotive companies is steppng up to the plate to offer its services to help fight the virus.

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In a release posted on its website, Automobili Lamborghini says it is reconverting some departments of its production plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese in order to produce surgical masks and protective medical shields for the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital in Bologna. The company says it is collaborating with the University of Bologna, whose Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences “will oversee validation testing of the medical devices made by Lamborghini, prior to their delivery to the hospital.”

The ultra luxury carmaker says that the Upholstery Department, which is responsible for producing the interiors and customizations for Lamborghini cars, plans to make at least 1,000 masks a day. In addition, it will also manufacture up to 200 protective medical shields in polycarbonate per day with the use of 3D printers.

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“During an emergency such as this one, we feel the need to make a concrete contribution,” says Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. “We have therefore decided to support the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, 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.” 

3| Uratex

Uratex is best-known for its foams and mattresses, but during this time of COVID-19, it is contributing its resources to efforts to contain the virus. Specifically, the company has created a prototype cushion that can be attached to a ventilator that will help patients breathe while lying prone, or with the chest down and the back up. Designed by Dindo Medina, corporate sales director and husband of Uratex managing director Peachy Cheng, the prototype is based on a sample photo provided by Dr. Albert Albay of the Philippine General Hospital. 

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Uratex plans to produce 1,000 pieces of the cushion, although demand was initially only for a few hundred pieces. However, the company says they have already received orders from at least 16 hospitals. Deliveries will start on Thursday. 

4| GM

General Motors has temporarily reopened one of its closed plants in order to make millions of face masks.

According to USA Today, the automaker started making the masks on Monday, March 30. “By Wednesday, April 8, the first 20,000 face masks will roll off the line for distribution to offset a severe shortage of masks caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” the report said.

GM plans to make 50,000 masks a day, or up to 1.5 million a month once production is at full scale.

The American company is also working with medical device maker Ventec Life Systems to make lifesaving ventilators at GM's plant in Kokomo, Indiana.

5| Ford

Another American carmaker has also announced an initiative to help in the fight against the coronavirus. In a press release, Ford Motor Company, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, said that it would begin producing “a third-party ventilator with the goal to produce 50,000 of the vitally needed units within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month thereafter as needed.”

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Ford said it would provide its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production, while GE Healthcare will provide its clinical expertise and will license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp.

The GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Its production can be quickly scaled to help meet growing demand in the U.S.

“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.”

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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