Why it matters: Foxconn, best known for manufacturing Apple’s iPhones, is partnering with medical device company Medtronic to produce ventilators at its controversial Wisconsin plant, helping address a global shortage of the machines, which are vital in the treatment of severe cases of Covid-19.
Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak revealed the partnership in an interview with CNBC, adding that the ventilators will be based on its PB-560 design and manufactured in the next four to six weeks.
Ishrak never said how many of the devices would be produced, but Foxconn, which confirmed the partnership today, said the companies hope to speed up production time so the ventilators can be put into use as soon as possible.
Fortune notes that Foxconn has been making face masks in China since February, while its subsidiary Sharp Corp. started producing them in Japan in March.
Since Foxconn chose Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, for its $10 billion manufacturing facility back in 2017, the site has been plagued by controversy. Environmentalists weren’t happy about plans to drain 7 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan every day, and the company missed job creation targets last year. In July 2019, it was revealed that the plant would open in 2020 with a workforce of just 1,500, or 320 short of what it needs to secure $4 billion in financial incentives from the state.
Foxconn previously announced that the Wisconsin plant would produce other items, including automated coffee- and tea-dispensing kiosks through a partnership with Texas-based Briggo, when it opens next month.
Several organizations are now manufacturing ventilators to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic, including Tesla, Ford, General Motors, MIT, Dyson, and more. The Mercedes F1 team, meanwhile, has created a breathing aid for patients.