With manufacturing on-hold in the vast majority of car manufacturing facilities across the world, car companies are assisting to manufacture much needed resources for front-line medical personnel and increasing donations to charities.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the USA
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is in the process of converting its first plant to produce face masks for donation to first responders and health care workers. The first machinery has been delivered and installed with supply and donation coming on stream in the coming weeks.
FCA is expanding its program of measures to support coronavirus relief efforts, focused on two principal areas: charities providing food services to children and support for a range of technical, logistical and manufacturing programs, such as face mask production.
“There has never been a more important moment to help children and their families with vital needs in our communities than during this time of great uncertainty,” said FCA CEO Mike Manley.
Food programs for children in our communities
FCA will work in partnership with non-profit organizations and foundations that are providing food to children until schools return to session. Starting immediately, FCA will help provide more than 1 million meals to school-age children in the communities around our principal manufacturing plants in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The program will then be extended nationwide in the U.S. and to Canada and Mexico, supporting similar relief efforts for kids who would normally access school meal services.
Mobilizing company resources
Following the first actions taken to start face mask production, the company is now investing technical, logistical and manufacturing resources at medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE). With the donation of face masks produced by the company starting in the coming weeks, the company will invest to extend that production capacity to other plants and ultimately donate masks to first responders and health care workers across the world. Drawing on experience from the company’s engineering and logistics team in Italy who are assisting a local ventilator manufacturer, FCA is engaged with other companies producing ventilators and other much needed medical equipment and PPE.
“In this time of need, we’ve focused our resources on those actions we can implement quickly and that will have the greatest impact, as we did in Italy as soon as the emergency started,” added Manley.
Mercedes-Benz in Europe
Especially in times like these, it is important for Mercedes-Benz to meet its social responsibilities. The Group has therefore offered its support with the production of medical equipment. With the aid of 3D printers, individual components can be produced that are urgently needed in medical technology as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“With our highly competent team and years of experience in 3D printing technology, we are ready to make our contribution to the production of medical devices,” says Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG, Production and Supply Chain. “To this end, we are also in contact with the state government of Baden-Württemberg. Our expertise and specialist knowledge is available for production; now it is up to the medical technology sector to contact us. Our 3D printers are definitely available.”
Mercedes-Benz has been gathering experience in the research and application of additive manufacturing for around 30 years. In the passenger car sector, 3D printing is usually used in prototype construction and small-series production.
Mercedes-Benz already uses 3D printing machines to produce up to 150,000 plastic and metal components every year. This capacity can now be fully utilized for medical purposes. All common 3D printing processes can be used – from stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) to Selective Laser Melting (SLM).
Porsche’s response to the pandemic
Porsche is stepping up its corporate social responsibility in response to the coronavirus crisis. The company is donating five million euros to people in need as a result of the virus and is spending 200,000 euros on food donations. The production of medical products is also being considered, says Porsche boss Oliver Blume.
Porsche is having a break in production at the moment. Is it yet clear whether you can restart production after the two-week break?
We are assessing the situation as it presents itself. The most important thing for us is that the supply chains can be rebuilt as soon as possible. We are less dependent on China than we are on our European neighbours. In this respect, I hope that we as a society will manage to contain the coronavirus and that we will then receive a signal at European level as to when we can all restart production.
How hard will Porsche be hit by the crisis? Some economists expect the biggest slump since World War Two?
There are various crisis scenarios from experts. The ‘V-scenario’ assumes that we have to prepare for a very large slump, but that the sales level after the crisis will be higher than before. My hope is that it will be this V-effect that we have to deal with. It is also important that politicians support the economy throughout the crisis – for example, to increase demand so that we can put this slump behind us as quickly as possible. Our aim is to manage this crisis systematically and responsibly and to see it as an opportunity. It is important to have an optimistic attitude, to look ahead – and to return to full throttle as soon as possible after the crisis.
At the moment we have obviously not yet bottomed out. And in the case of the state government, the need is so great that it has turned to the business community for help with the procurement of medical materials. Can Porsche help?
The state of Baden-Württemberg has set up a crisis task force. I have written to Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, in response to his request for help, to say that we want to support the state in organising the task force. Consultants from Porsche Consulting can help, as can the IT specialists from our subsidiary MHP. For example, we could help to structure and coordinate processes, to look at what is needed where, and which company might be in a position to help. We are offering this free of charge, of course.
Can you also help with procurement of materials?
We are currently clarifying with the state government which components are required. They range from protective goggles to respiratory masks. For highly specialised medical products, you have to comply with the legal requirements and certifications. Here, the lead must lie with the medical technology specialists, who could then delegate orders to the automotive industry. Our 3D printers are available in any case. As a first step, we have already forwarded protective clothing from our stocks to the state government. And together with our parent company, Volkswagen, we are participating in the procurement of further equipment on a large scale, especially from China. We must also ensure that we look beyond the medical sector and recognise where our help is needed.
What do you mean by this?
In these times of crisis, we are painfully aware that many food banks receive hardly any food donations. That is why we are doubling our donations to them so that people can continue to be supplied with food.
What does doubling mean in numbers?
We are supporting the food banks at our locations this year with 200,000 euros. In addition, we have made an offer to certain charitable organisations to provide vehicles with drivers, perhaps where there is a bottleneck in the transport of relief supplies or people. We have also increased donations from Porsche AG by five million Euros. This amount will be used to support local organisations and people who are in need as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Our employees also help personally and voluntarily with the charitable organisations at our locations.
This can only be done voluntarily, right?
Of course. I have received many emails and questions from colleagues who want to get involved. We have now channeled this through our internal media and published lists of organisations at our sites in Baden-Württemberg and Saxony that need help. Our employees can get involved here. For example, we have a number of trained paramedics among our employees. These people are of course urgently needed now, but in some cases it is a question of pure manpower. I would also like to urge readers that all people, according to their talents, can help to overcome this crisis in the best possible way.
The coronavirus crisis also presents Porsche with many challenges. How do you manage to set up such aid programs on the side?
With passion. People come first. That is always the case, but even more so in this crisis. All the rest comes second. Our crisis management team meets virtually every day and, on the one hand, looks after our offers of help and, on the other, discusses Porsche’s concerns. There is an opportunity in every crisis and I am currently watching our society holding it together. Everyone is trying to help others. Everyone is reflecting on the essentials, and everyone is reflecting on what is really important in life. We can learn from this experience after the crisis. What we take from this can shape the way we live together and everyone can benefit from that.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia prioritises Service and Vehicle Repairs
Mitsubishi Motors Australia fully supports the government’s efforts to protect our communities and save lives. As the nation fights the spread of Coronavirus (COVID19), we appreciate that healthcare and emergency services workers are working hard to keep us all safe.
Today our dealership service centres have committed to prioritise the service and repair of vehicles owned by our exceptional healthcare and essential services workers. We anticipate this will help them to keep their vehicles safe on the roads, and support them to maximise precious downtime between shifts.
John Signoriello, CEO, Mitsubishi Motors Australia said: “This is a once in a generation event, and we appreciate everything these critical workers are doing to protect our communities. Service and repair work is essential to keeping them safe on the road as they take on this huge task.
“In the past few weeks, my colleagues who have family members working in healthcare or government response roles have told me they are working long shifts to manage the demands on their services. They are working terrifically hard. If we can do something to offer some peace-of-mind, and maximise their downtime between shifts – we should, and we will.”
Essential workers should identify themselves when booking so that dealership staff can fulfil this commitment. In some dealerships, workshops are also able to offer vehicle collection and drop-off from home or work, if they cannot get to the dealership service area.
Stay safe everyone!
Photographs by Daimler AG and Porsche AG.