Faced with the compelling need for more respirators on its national territory, the French government has asked, on March 22, a group of French industrial companies led by Air Liquide to study the possibility of increasing the production of respirators so as to provide 10,000 respirators in 50 days, between the beginning of April and mid-May. In response, Air Liquide, Groupe PSA, Schneider Electric and Valeo have set up a Task Force composed of about 30 purchasing and industrialization experts in order to define an action plan to increase the production of Air Liquide Medical Systems respirators, which are already referenced by a great number of hospitals in France and abroad. To meet this industrial challenge, the exceptional contribution of 100 partner companies will also be sought so as to provide the 300 essential components that are necessary for the fabrication of these medical systems.
As a reminder, Air Liquide has already started the process of tripling its production capacities after the French Ministry of Health had confirmed mid-March a first order of 1,000 respirators to Air Liquide Medical Systems, a dedicated subsidiary of the Air Liquide Group. These intensive care respirators are already being produced by the teams located on the site in Antony, France, and two thirds of that order will be delivered to health facilities by the end of April.
Given the need to sharply increase the number of respirators in the context of the worsening Covid-19 situation and in order to fulfill the French government’s request, formulated by Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of State, attached to the Minister of Economy and Finance, to supply a total of 10,000 respirators in 50 days, Air Liquide is coordinating a working group bringing together Groupe PSA, Schneider Electric and Valeo. This has resulted in a proposal to the Government on March 27 to supply two models of Air Liquide Medical Systems respirators, which will be delivered in six weeks.
This action leads to an exceptional mobilization and coordinated approach of the 4 major industrial Groups in order to secure the necessary components, the reorganisation of the production workshops and the involvement of the additional resources needed to assemble the elements that make up these respirators.
- Securing the components - Close to 100 suppliers will provide the 300 components that make up these respirators. The purchasing experts of Air Liquide Medical Systems are working in pairs with the dedicated experts of the other partners in each field (mechanics and electronics) so as to secure the supply all along the implementation of the project.
- Reorganisation of the production workshops - The production rates of certain respirators will be multiplied by up to 70 thanks to the implementation of three additional lines, with three teams working six days a week. A pre-assembly of the mechanical part of the respirators will be executed on the site of Groupe PSA in Poissy, France. The last phase of the assembly, the control, the quality deliverance will be achieved on the Antony site, by the teams of Air Liquide Medical Systems.
- Involvement of additional resources - To complete the work carried out by Air Liquide teams, this intensive production program will also require the mobilization of 240 additional operators, out of which 185 in Antony and 55 operators from Groupe PSA based in Poissy.
As part of its commitment to solidarity alongside the healthcare professionals and the authorities, Air Liquide has committed to providing these respirators at cost price and without passing on the exceptional costs induced by the implementation of this unprecedented industrial program.
More than one hundred respirators per week will be delivered until mid-April, and then more than 1,000 per week.
The contribution of other companies is also under study and awaiting confirmation depending on the complementary needs that might be identified during project implementation.