OKOMO, Ind. – General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) recently began mass production of the Ventec Life Systems V+Pro critical care ventilator under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Thousands of men and women at GM, Ventec, our suppliers and the Kokomo community have rallied to support their neighbors and the medical professionals on the front lines of this pandemic,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Everyone wants to help turn the tide and save lives. It is inspiring and humbling to see the passion and commitment people have put into this work.”
“GM has moved swiftly in Trump time to manufacture one of the most critical lifesaving devices in America’s war against the coronavirus,” said White House Assistant to the President Peter Navarro. “GM’s rapid mobilization of America’s manufacturing might in defense of our country is a proud salute to the ingenuity of its engineers, the true grit of its UAW workers on the line, and America’s doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals fighting for our lives at the front lines. As these lifesaving ventilators roll off GM’s assembly line as fast as tanks once did in an earlier World War, they will be rapidly deployed to the hospitals of Gary, Chicago, and far beyond.”
In less than a month, Ventec, GM’s supply chain and its manufacturing, logistics, legal, and talent acquisition teams were able to marshal support to deliver a 30,000-unit order from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Until there is a vaccine, critical care ventilators give medical professionals the tools they need to fight this pandemic and save lives,” said Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple. “This partnership is an historic effort and a great reminder of what can be accomplished with the power of American innovation and American manufacturing skill uniting together around a singular mission to save lives.”
The effort involved sourcing hundreds of parts and assemblies from suppliers; the design of a new manufacturing process; the transformation of GM’s Kokomo factory; the ongoing hiring of more than 1,000 manufacturing team members; and the implementation of extensive health and safety protocols in the workplace.
Throughout the effort, GM had strong support from the leadership of the United Auto Workers, including the UAW-GM Department and UAW Local 292, community groups and elected officials in Kokomo, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.
More than 600 ventilators will be shipped this month, almost half the order will be filled by the end of June and the full order will be completed by the end of August. GM has the capacity to build more ventilators after August if needed.
A strong sense of urgency was present from the beginning:
- GM and Ventec executives had their first conference calls on Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18 to explore how GM could help Ventec increase ventilator production.
- The next day, a GM team flew to Seattle to meet with the Ventec team and rolled up their sleeves to help.
- On Friday, March 20, GM engaged its global supply base and within 72 hours, they had developed plans to source 100 percent of the necessary parts.
- The UAW’s national and local leadership embraced the project and on Wednesday, March 25, crews began preparing the Kokomo site for production.
- On Wednesday, April 8, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded GM a contract under the Defense Production Act to build 30,000 Ventec V+Pro critical care ventilators.