Businesses large and small have recalibrated as the public health and economic crises have raged, moving outside their lanes to produce new products or partner with other businesses to fill supply chain and product holes. And though corporate partnerships can concentrate expertise to solve some problems, many of these efforts are nascent — commercial metamorphoses that require different production and supply chain mechanisms, and skilled workers.
In the Ford collaboration, for instance, the first ventilators or respirators to roll off the line are still months away. But the automaker has been able to pivot more quickly on the plastic face shields; it expects to deliver the first batch of 1,000 this week to Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace hospitals for testing. Eventually, it expects to produce 100,000 a week.
“This is like bringing in the cavalry to say, ‘Okay, where can we double down to make things go faster and bigger?’” Mike Kesti, global technical director of 3M’s personal safety division, said in a phone interview.