Apple partner Foxconn to start making ventilators in the US

Foxconn confirmed the partnership in a statement but did not say where and when it will be making the medical equipment. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Foxconn, the company responsible for assembling most of the world's Apple iPhones, will aid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by developing and making ventilators in the United States.

The Wisconsin plant owned by Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., will be used to manufacture ventilators, Medtronic chief executive officer Omar Ishrak told CNBC.

Foxconn confirmed the partnership in a statement on Wednesday (April 8) but did not say where and when it will be making the medical equipment.

There has been a critical shortage of supply globally for ventilators needed in the treatment of severe cases of Covid-19.

Foxconn's collaboration with Medtronic covers design and development of the devices. Production will start within the next four to six weeks, Mr Ishrak said, without quantifying a volume.

Foxconn has been making face masks, used to curb the spread of the virus, in China since February and its subsidiary Sharp also began churning them out in Japan in late March.

Foxconn's contract for its Wisconsin plant was signed with great fanfare in late 2017.

President Donald Trump, who had helped bring the deal together with the state's then-governor, Republican Scott Walker, said Foxconn would revitalise US manufacturing and that its massive factory hub would become "the Eighth Wonder of the World."

Since then, the plant- which was originally intended for making display panels - has been criticised for delays and changes of direction. The company missed its first-year hiring target by a wide margin, ending 2018 with 178 full-time employees.

Other companies in the US are also rushing to make ventilators as the coronavirus spreads rapidly there. Ford Motor Co said last week it will produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan in cooperation with General Electric's healthcare unit, and can then build 30,000 per month as needed to treat patients infected by the coronavirus.

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