(WWJ) General Motors will be making masks in metro Detroit.
The automaker annoucned Friday that it's expanding its support of medical equipment production by temporarily converting its shuttered Warren plant to build Level 1 surgical masks.
Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. Daily mask production will be influenced by the availability of materials to build the masks.
The necessary machinery will be delivered to the Warren plant Friday, and production of masks will begin next week.
This employee-led initiative was created, planned and approved in about 48 hours and involves GM’s traditional supply base as well as new partnerships specific to the medical device industry. GM will be collaborating with governments and local suppliers to distribute the masks.
GM shut down operations at Warren Transmission on Mound Road in 2019.
Also announced Friday: GM will make ventilators in Indiana. According to Ventec Life Systems, GM will build VOCSN critical care ventilators at GM’s Kokomo manufacturing facility with FDA-cleared ventilators scheduled to ship as soon as next month. This effort is in addition to Ventec taking aggressive steps to ramp up production at their manufacturing facility in Bothell, Washington.
Across all manufacturers, there is a global backorder of critical care ventilators capable of supporting patients fighting COVID-19. The companies are adding thousands of units of new capacity with a significantly expanded supply chain capable of supporting high volume production. GM is donating its resources at cost.
GM will also begin manufacturing FDA-cleared Level 1 surgical masks at its Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. “This unique partnership combines Ventec’s respiratory care expertise with GM’s manufacturing might to produce sophisticated and high-quality critical care ventilators,” said Chris Kiple, CEO of Ventec Life Systems. “This pandemic is unprecedented and so is the response, with incredible support from GM and their suppliers. Healthcare professionals on the front lines deserve the best tools to treat patients and precision critical care ventilators like VOCSN are what is necessary to save lives.”
Ventec said they are working around the clock with and GM to meet the urgent need for more ventilators. Efforts to set up tooling and manufacturing capacity at the GM Kokomo facility are already underway to produce Ventec’s critical care ventilator, VOCSN. Depending on the needs of the federal government, Ventec and GM are poised to deliver the first ventilators next month and ramp up to a manufacturing capacity of more than 10,000 critical care ventilators per month with the infrastructure and capability to scale further.
“We are proud to stand with other American companies and our skilled employees to meet the needs of this global pandemic,” said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, in a news released. “This partnership has rallied the GM enterprise and our global supply base to support Ventec, and the teams are working together with incredible passion and commitment. I am proud of this partnership as we work together to address urgent and life-saving needs.”
GM will deploy an estimated 1,000 American workers to scale production of critical care ventilators immediately. Working with the UAW, GM has brought back employees from GM’s Kokomo and Marion facilties.
Since Friday, March 20, Ventec and GM teams across manufacturing, engineering, purchasing, legal and others have been tirelessly and seamlessly working together to create and implement a plan for immediate, scaled production of critical care ventilators. The Ventec and
GM global supply base developed sourcing plans for the more than 700 individual parts that are needed to build up to 200,000 VOCSN.”GM is in the position to help build more ventilators because of the remarkable performance of GM and Ventec’s global supply base,” added Barra.
“Our joint teams have moved mountains to find real solutions to save lives and fight the pandemic.”