This story initially appeared in Metro Magazine, School Bus Fleet’s sister publication.
BOTHELL, Wash. — General Motors (GM) is working with American medical device company Ventec Life Systems to manufacture ventilators to support patients fighting COVID-19.
Ventec Life Systems announced in a news release on Friday that GM will build VOCSN critical care ventilators at its Kokomo, Ind., manufacturing facility. FDA-cleared ventilators are scheduled to ship as soon as next month.
Ventec is also taking aggressive steps to ramp up production at its manufacturing facility in Bothell, Wash., according to the company.
Across all manufacturers, there is a global backorder of critical care ventilators capable of supporting patients fighting COVID-19. Ventec and GM are adding thousands of units of new capacity with a significantly expanded supply chain capable of supporting high volume production. GM is contributing its resources at cost.
GM will also begin manufacturing FDA-cleared Level 1 surgical masks at its Warren, Mich., 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.
Critical Care Ventilators
Ventec and GM are working around the clock 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.
GM will deploy an estimated 1,000 American workers to scale production of critical care ventilators immediately. Working with the United Auto Workers (UAW), GM has brought back employees from GM’s facilities in Kokomo and Marion, Ind.
Since March 20, Ventec and GM teams across manufacturing, engineering, purchasing, legal, and other areas have been 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.
Level 1 Surgical Masks
In a separate effort, GM is expanding its support of medical equipment production by temporarily converting its 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 was delivered to the Warren plant Friday morning and production of masks will begin this 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.