The auto industry is neck-deep in a battle to stay afloat despite idled plants and stale sales. While manufacturers wait for life as we knew it to return to normal, they are focusing on efforts not towards building cars, but instead producing life-saving medical gear and personal protective equipment for front-line workers. Now, General Motors is asking its chain of global suppliers to join them in the fight against COVID-19 by sharing its know-how with them.
In a note sent to more than 600 parts suppliers over the weekend, GM reportedly announced that it would be making its step-by-step manufacturing procedures for personal protective equipment (PPE) available for use to any supplier willing to help produce a finished product.
“Our ultimate goal is to get more masks to the people who desperately need them,” Wrote Shilpan Amin, GM’s vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, in a memo obtained by CNBC.
“We also recognized it would be counterproductive if GM—or any other manufacturer—competed for supplies with existing medical-mask companies. By making available GM’s production processes to our global supply base, we hope to facilitate other companies’ efforts to bring more materials, more equipment and ultimately more face masks to the community.”
A spokesperson reportedly indicated that GM will provide its suppliers with detailed specifications on material, necessary equipment, and manufacturing processes needed to stand up production lines capable of producing similar PPE.
Last week, GM announced that it had begun work to equip its former transmission plant in Warren, Michigan with the tooling necessary to build Level 1 face masks. With the help of two dozen paid UAW volunteers, the automaker is set to kick off production today and expects to have its first 20,000 masks ready for delivery by Wednesday, April 8. GM says once its line is up and running at full capacity, the automaker will be able to product 50,000 masks every day – that’s 1.5 million much-needed masks per month.
In addition to PPE, GM has also announced a partnership with Washington-based Ventec Life Systems to manufacture ventilators at its Kokomo, Indiana manufacturing facility.
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