The big maneuvers. In addition to the announcement of a large increase in the volume of mask production in France, Emmanuel Macron, on the move to a mask production factory near Angers, also launched another consortium to deal with to another shortage: that of respirators, which are beginning to be lacking in many hospitals overwhelmed by patients seriously affected by Covid-19.
The goal is to manufacture "by mid-May 10,000 respirators," said the president. Led by Air Liquide, this consortium also brings together the specialist in electrical equipment Schneider Electric, the automotive supplier Valeo and the manufacturer PSA (Peugeot, Citroën), as Le Parisien announced a few days ago.
This initiative around a "critical subject" for the health management of the epidemic, according to Mr. Macron, will add to the increase in orders already placed by the State. The consortium will produce heavy respirators to equip the additional beds announced by the Minister of Health Olivier Véran last week.
A war effort
France wants to reach a capacity of around 14,000 intensive care beds on the national territory to cope with the influx of patients, against 5,000 beds before the crisis. It will be 8,500 Osiris models and 1,500 T60 models, more complex, both already manufactured by Air Liquide. They will be assembled in the Air Liquide Medical Systems factory in Antony (Hauts-de-Seine), with a pre-assembly of "mechanical blocks" on a workshop that PSA is installing in its Poissy factory (Yvelines) .
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Since the start of the crisis, Air Liquide has already expanded its assembly line to increase its production of resuscitation ventilators and non-invasive ventilators for home health. "This industrial challenge will also call on the exceptional contribution of 100 partner companies to ensure the supply of the 300 components essential to the manufacture of this medical equipment," Air Liquide said in a press release.
"The production rates of certain respirators will be multiplied up to 70 thanks to the establishment of three additional lines, organized in three teams working 6 days a week," said the group, stressing that this program would require "the mobilization of 240 additional operators, including 185 at Antony and 55 PSA operators at Poissy ”.
Unions welcome initiative
Air Liquide emphasizes that it is "committed to supplying these respirators at cost price and without passing on the exceptional costs induced by the implementation of this unprecedented industrial program".
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"We went last week to visit the Air Liquide manufacturing line in Antony and we saw concretely how we could help them," explained PSA's industrial director, Yann Vincent, during a conference call with journalists. .
"We decided to install (in the Poissy factory) a small workshop to produce the mechanical block of the respirators which is a particularly critical part and whose production hinders Air Liquide's ability to produce the expected quantities", a he indicated. PSA will also supply around fifty volunteer operators at the Air Liquide plant to enable the ramp-up. The aid will be provided at cost, the group said.
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The manufacturer's unions have unanimously welcomed this contribution to help hospitals, even if they are hostile to the plan to resume production in PSA factories for the manufacture of cars which they consider as a non-essential activity.
Valeo said for its part that it would build a team of buyers to manage the supply of the necessary parts, provide technical support with its R & D teams, and provide engineers specialized in industrial production.
Schneider Electric will provide "equipment allowing the reconfiguration of production lines", will provide support to secure electronic supplies and will mobilize, like PSA, voluntary employees to occupy operator positions on the Antony site.