General Motors
General Motors and Ventec Life Systems are partnering to convert the GM Kokomo, Indiana ERC building for the production of Ventec ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GM Scaling Up Ventilator and Mask Production

March 28, 2020
Despite being called out by the White House, General Motors will convert a plant and produce up to 200,000 critical-care ventilators, in an arrangement with Ventec Life Systems.

General Motors Corp. is converting a precision electrical parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., to produce critical-care ventilators in partnership with Ventec Life Systems, and will start producing FDA-approved Level 1 surgical masks at its Warren, Mich., transmission plant in the coming days. The two efforts apparently had been progressing prior to a White House-issued, Defense Production Act order directing GM to produce the ventilators.

The automaker noted it is contributing its resources at cost in these efforts. GM and other automakers had been working with the Trump Administration to produce the ventilators, in the face of an expected shortage of those devices as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads.

"Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time," President Trump stated.

GM noted that as of Friday, March 20, its manufacturing, engineering, purchasing, legal, and other teams had been working with Ventec Life Systems to draft and implement plans for producing the critical-care ventilators. Sourcing on this project involves more than 700 individual parts, and up to 200,000 VOCSN critical-care ventilators are planned.

GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra said the "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.”

Ventec Life Systems, Bothell, Wash., developed and produces the VOCSN, lightweight and mobile unit that integrates a critical care ventilator, 6 L/min equivalent oxygen concentrator, touch-button cough assist, hospital-grade suction, and a high-performance nebulizer. VOCSN is customizable for pediatric and adult patients.

GM will assign about 1,000 workers to scale the production of critical care ventilators immediately at Kokomo, and has recalled some workers from the idled operations at Kokomo and Marion, Ind., for that effort.

The manufacturing operation at the 2.6-million-sq.ft., Kokomo precision electrical components plant is scheduled to begin shipping the FDA-cleared ventilators next month. (Ventec also is ramping up production at its manufacturing plant in Bothell, Wash.)

Also, in the coming days GM will begin manufacturing FDA-cleared Level 1 surgical masks at Warren, Mich., ramping-up to a rate of 50,000 masks/day within two weeks, with the potential to increase to 100,000 masks/day.

GM noted the production of the masks was an "employee-led initiative … created, planned and approved in about 48 hours", and involving GM’s standard suppliers and new partners from the medical-device sector.

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