Foxconn, the company responsible for assembling most of the world’s Apple Inc. iPhones, will aid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by developing and making ventilators in the U.S.
The Wisconsin plant owned by Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., will be used to manufacture ventilators, Medtronic Plc Chief Executive Officer Omar Ishrak told CNBC.
Foxconn confirmed the partnership in a statement on Wednesday but did not say when it will start making the medical equipment. Evelyn Tsai, spokesperson for founder Terry Gou, said production would take place in Wisconsin and Taiwan.
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, 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 Corp. also began churning them out in Japan in late March.
The company’s share price was up 5.3% in Taipei on Wednesday. It released better-than-anticipated March-quarter sales numbers on April 6.
Fellow Taiwanese tech manufacturing supplier Kinpo Electronics Inc. also announced plans to begin producing coronavirus-fighting medical equipment in the U.S. starting in May.
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 revitalize U.S. 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 criticized 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.