General Motors to build ventilators at Indiana plant

Automakers are shoring up resources to join efforts toward containing the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. General Motors and medical equipment manufacturer Ventec are teaming up in a partnership codenamed ‘Project V’ for the production of ventilators at a GM facility in Kokomo, Indiana, according to a report by the New York Times.

General Motors has arranged for the supply of 95% of parts required to build the ventilators, and it is seeking to source the remaining 37 necessary components, according to an e-mail to suppliers from General Motors’ VP of global purchasing Shilpan Amin. The aim of the venture is to produce up to 200,000 ventilators, according to people familiar with the plans, the NYT report said.

“Ventec Life Systems and General Motors have been working around the clock to implement plans to build more critical care ventilators. With GM’s support, Ventec is now planning exponentially higher ventilator production as fast as possible,” said GM spokesman Dan Flores.

The first batch of parts are to be delivered by suppliers to General Motors by April 6, and supplier production could begin ‘within the next two to three weeks’, Amin said in the e-mail sighted; it was not indicated when GM might commence production of the ventilators. Creative Foam Corp is one of the auto components manufacturers joining in, and it already has an existing division that serves the healthcare sector, according to the report.

Privately-owned Creative Foam Corp will begin producing foam parts for the ventilators’ air filtration system this week, its CEO Phil Fioravante said. “We already have installed capacity, so we are just repurposing it and utilizing it for this end,” he said.

Minneapolis-based Twin City Die Castings signed a contract about nine months ago to supply Ventec, and Twin City is converting its die cast-making parts for higher-volume production as the volume target has grown from producing parts for 150 ventilators a month to as many as 20,000, Twin City CEO Todd Olson said. The conversion would normal require 12 weeks, but it is being done in one week Twin City staff are working non-stop, Olson added.

Auto parts suppliers say Ford is also part of a task force for face masks, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has endeavoured to produce more than one million face masks per month, with production capacity for the masks to be installed this week and manufacturing to begin in the coming weeks. These will first be donated to first responders across the US, Canada and Mexico, said FCA.

In Italy, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari are also in talks with the country’s largest producer of ventilators, Siare Engineering for the increase of ventilator production.

Tags: COVID-19

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