Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa’s Silverton plant has started producing face shields that will be donated to medical and essential services personnel fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.

While the initial production run will see 57 000 examples made, the Blue Oval brand says it has “approached its suppliers and business partners” with an aim of ramping up production to a “minimum of 500 000 units”.

Ford invited the “general public and businesses across South Africa” to contribute to the project.

The face shields are being made at Ford’s Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria (where the Ranger and Everest are built) by employees who volunteered to help out.

“With South Africa on lockdown and our plants not operating at the moment, we felt that it was essential for us to use our manufacturing capacity and expertise to contribute to the efforts of the South African government, private healthcare institutions and humanitarian organisations to contain the spread of COVID-19, and to care for those infected with the virus,” said Ockert Berry, vice-president for operations at Ford’s local arm.

“With the face shields in critically short supply, we are dedicating our resources and manpower to produce the face shields as quickly as possible. We are urgently engaging with our component suppliers and business partners, and inviting them to come on board and assist us with raising funds for this important project.

“We welcome any contributions from individuals and companies across South Africa to support this initiative, whether it’s R10, R10 000 or R100 000, every little bit counts,” Berry said.

Ford says Trek Plastics is supplying medical-grade materials for the project at a discounted rate. In addition, the Corruseal Group has “committed to supplying boxes at no cost for packaging the face shields”, while Creative Graphics International has also donated materials.

Trans-Atlantic Logistics and DSV, meanwhile, have both agreed to waive transport costs to help with distribution to hospitals, clinics and other locations countrywide. Ford says Feltex Automotive and Aeroklas Duys have both contributed the foam materials, while Lithotec has added labels.

According to Ford, employees involved in the production process work to “strict COVID-19 health and personal hygiene guidelines”. All staff members are screened regularly for coronavirus symptoms and are required to wear latex gloves, face masks and the face shields, and maintain appropriate physical distancing at all times.

Ford says all contributions will be “exclusively used to purchase the kits for the face shields”, with the Blue Oval brand “covering all the labour costs for assembly and packaging”, and aforementioned supplier companies assisting with materials, boxes and other packaging materials, as well as transport.

Should you wish to contribute to Ford’s initiative, you can e-mail [email protected] using the reference “Ford SA COVID-19”. Banking details will then be supplied to you.