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General Motors Teams with Ventec Life Systems to Manufacture Ventilators at Kokomo, Indiana, Plant

04/02/2020
Ventec Life Systems will team with General Motors to produce critical care ventilators at the automaker’s manufacturing plant in Kokomo, Indiana.

In addition Ventec will take aggressive steps to ramp up production at its own manufacturing facility in Bothell, Washington.

“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 this 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.”

Depending on the needs of the federal government, Ventec and GM are poised to ramp up production capacity to manufacture 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. “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 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.”

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 facilities.

In a separate effort, GM is temporarily converting its Warren, Michigan, plant to build Level 1 surgical masks. Production will 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, officials said.

“Our team began looking at ways we could quickly utilize our talents and resources to help in the shared fight against COVID-19,” said Peter Thom, GM vice president, Global Manufacturing Engineering. “Working around the clock, our team rallied with incredible passion and focus to come up with a plan to produce masks that will help protect the women and men on the front lines of this crisis.”

More than 30 engineers, designers, buyers and members of the manufacturing team were asked to help with product development, sourcing materials and equipment, and planning the production process.

“The first people we called were those who work with fabric vehicle components,” said Karsten Garbe, GM plant director, Global Pre-Production Operations. “In a few days, the company’s seat belt and interior trim experts became experts in manufacturing face masks.”

The team sourced the necessary raw materials by leveraging GM’s existing supply chain. These materials include metal nose pieces, elastic straps and blown, non-woven fabric filter material. Simultaneously, GM collaborated with JR Automation in Holland, Michigan and Esys Automation in Auburn Hills to design and build the custom machinery needed to assemble the masks.

The team expects to have 20,000 masks ready for delivery on April 8. Once the line is running at full speed, it will be able to produce up to 50,000 masks every day, or up to 1.5 million masks a month. GM is currently developing a plan for distributing the masks, including using some of this important safety equipment to protect employees in critical GM operations.

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