Flex Ltd., a contract manufacturer known for making Apple Inc. computers, is starting to assemble thousands of ventilators to meet surging demand for the machines in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The San Jose, California-based company will be churning out 25,000 to 30,000 ventilators a month by May or June, according to John Carlson, Flex’s head of medical solutions. That’s equal to the industry’s typical annual output, but as many as 1 million of these machines are needed now, he said in an interview Friday.
The coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people and killed 58,000. Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, affects people’s respiratory systems. That has led to shortages of ventilators as hospitals try to keep thousands alive. On Friday, New York and New Jersey governors ordered unused ventilators to be seized from medical facilities and redistributed to hospitals treating coronavirus patients.
Flex generates about $2 billion in annual sales by manufacturing medical devices for other companies. But ventilators are usually made in-house by medical-device companies, so this is new territory.
Still, Carlson said Flex and other electronics contract manufacturers are well placed to respond. Flex has plants in the U.S., Mexico and China as well as other locations around the globe, along with experience procuring parts, dealing with regulations and adapting to local situations, such as workforce lockdowns.