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GM begins production of crucial ventilators
Partnership between GM and US government bears fruit with production of ventilators
15 Apr 2020
GENERAL Motors (GM) has begun the mass production of the Ventec Life Systems V+Pro critical care ventilator, a crucial piece of equipment in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 virus crisis.
Developed under contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services, the production of ventilators by GM was motivated by the invocation of the Defense Production Act by president Donald Trump, which states that a president can force companies to manufacture products in the interest of national defence.
When the Defense Production Act was invoked at the end of March, the relationship between President Trump and GM was rocky at the best, with the former taking to Twitter to announce: “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!”
In less than a month, GM, its supply chain and Ventec were able to fulfil an order of 30,000 ventilator units, from a contract that was awarded on April 8.
To make the process happen, GM has had to innovate on a number of its processes including sourcing hundreds of new parts and assemblies from suppliers; creating a new manufacturing process; transforming its Kokomo, Indiana production facility; hiring over 1000 manufacturing team members; and implementing adequate safety and health protocols.
GM is planning on shipping over 600 ventilators in April, with nearly half the order to be completed by the end of June, and the full 30,000 to be shipped by the end of August.
If needed, GM will have the capacity to build more than the original 30,000 ventilators.
GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra said it has taken hard work from all parties to make the development of the ventilators happen.
“Thousands of men and women at GM, Ventec, our suppliers and the Kokomo community have rallied to support their neighbours and the medical professionals on the front lines of this pandemic,” she said.
“Everyone wants to help turn the tide and save lives. It is inspiring and humbling to see the passion and commitment people have put into this work.”
Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple said the absence of a vaccine made the ventilators the most powerful tool in fighting the deadly coronavirus.
“Until there is a vaccine, critical care ventilators give medical professionals the tools they need to fight this pandemic and save lives,” he said.
“This partnership is an historic effort and a great reminder of what can be accomplished with the power of American innovation and American manufacturing skill uniting together around a singular mission to save lives.”
GM is firing on all cylinders to help manufacture valuable supplies, also pumping out face masks at its Warren, Michigan plant and donating money to a range of non-profits to help families affected by the economic impacts of the virus.
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