DeWalt Teams with Ford to Protect Frontline Healthcare Workers

In a time of challenge and uncertainty, companies are teaming up to solve problems and find solutions for those in need.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturing facilities closed their doors, sending workers home and pausing production. But, some companies were able to pivot, finding ways to stay open and keep their lines rolling to aid in the fight against the coronavirus. This has included several partnerships, including a notable one between DeWalt, Ford and 3M.

The Product

Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) are a critical tool to protecting healthcare providers as they treat those stricken with the coronavirus. A new PAPR design from Ford is a belt-mounted device that draws air in through a HEPA filter. This safe, fresh air is then pumped through a hose to a hooded face shield that rests on the wearer’s shoulders. But, for all those steps to work, the PAPR needs a reliable power source. And that’s where Stanley Black & Decker (the parent company of DeWalt) comes in.

Stanley Black & Decker worked with Ford to create a custom wiring harness to accommodate off-the-shelf 20V rechargeable batteries — the same ones that power DeWalt drills and saws. From a single battery, the PAPR can provide fresh air for up to eight hours. After that, all that’s needed to keep going is a simple battery swap-out. It’s an elegant design with a life-changing impact.

The Roll-Out

According to a Ford announcement, they plan to produce at least 100,000 PAPR units at the automaker’s Vreeland facility in Michigan. The hands-on work is being done by about 90 paid UAW union members who have volunteered for the retraining.

Completed PAPR units will be distributed through 3M’s network to reach healthcare providers. Although they have not yet specified the details of the distribution plan, it’s likely that it will be a mixture of sales and donations. In addition, 3M and Ford have announced that they will be donating any profits from sales to coronavirus-related nonprofits.

An On-Going Commitment

This isn’t the only way these companies have gotten involved in the pandemic relief efforts. Stanley Black & Decker has established a COVID-19 Community Response Task Force. And, Ford has multiple facilities that have been re-purposed to fight the virus’s spread, such as the Van Dyke Transmission Plant, which now makes face masks. The manufacturer has also teamed with airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems to manufacture medical gowns from airbag materials, with a goal of assembling 1.3 million by July fourth, each one tested to federal standards and washable for up to 50 uses.

By working together, American brands, such as Ford and DeWalt, are proving that it’s possible to stand united in support of the pandemic’s frontline heroes.

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Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.