“Based on the overwhelming number of requests for face masks for frontline workers, GM is increasing its production capacity for face masks at its Warren, Michigan facility,” the automaker said in a prepared statement released Thursday.
GM laid out its plans to begin supplying face masks to frontline healthcare workers and other essential service workers late last month. The automaker is currently manufacturing the masks at its Warren Transmission plant in Michigan and is also running a separate mask production operation in China with its local joint venture partner, SAIC-GM-Wuling. The Warren facility is now capable of producing up to 1.5 million masks per month.
In addition, GM has shared its face mask manufacturing plans with its supplier partners and the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and Michigan Manufacturers Association. This will help other face mask manufacturers to ramp up their own production efforts and prevent separate companies from competing over supplies needed to produce the masks during this critical time.
“Our ultimate goal is to get more masks to the people who desperately need them,” said GM’s vice president of global manufacturing, Shilpan Amin. “And we recognize it would be counterproductive for GM – or any other manufacturer – to compete for supplies with existing medical mask companies. By making GM’s production processes available to the OESA and the MMA, we hope to facilitate other companies’ efforts to bring more materials, more equipment and ultimately, more face masks to the community.”
GM’s suppliers deserve as much credit for mask production as the automaker does. Michigan-based companies JR Automaton and Esys Automation typically provide GM with automotive manufacturing machines, but when it pivoted to making face masks, the companies built a machine that automatically folds, bonds, and cuts face masks.
GDC, an Indiana based supplier that typically provides GM with insulation for vehicle headliners, doors and trunks, has also transitioned to making materials required to produce the face masks. GDC is working with another supplier, OXCO, to provide the materials and is working “around the clock and over weekends,” to ensure the automaker has the supplies it needs to continue to produce masks.
In addition to the face masks, GM is also producing Ventec ventilators at one of its components plants in Kokomo, Indiana. The automaker plans to deliver 30,000 of the life-saving machines by late August.