General Motors Co. in Detroit reported Tuesday it 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.
The company expects to ship more than 600 ventilators this month. The production is taking place at its Kokomo, Ind. factory.
“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,” says Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of GM. “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.”
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 DHHS. The effort involved sourcing hundreds of parts and assemblies from suppliers, designing a new manufacturing process, transforming GM’s Kokomo factory, the ongoing hiring of more than 1,000 manufacturing workers, and the implementation of health and safety protocols in the workplace.
Throughout the effort, GM says it has had strong support from the leadership of the United Auto Workers, community groups and elected officials in Kokomo, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the DHHS, and the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.
“Until there is a vaccine, critical care ventilators give medical professionals the tools they need to fight this pandemic and save lives,” says Chris Kiple, CEO of Ventec Life Systems. “This partnership is a 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.”
Almost half of the order is expected to 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 if needed.
“GM has moved swiftly in Trump time to manufacture one of the most critical lifesaving devices in America’s war against the coronavirus,” says Peter Navarro, white house assistant to the president. “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 health care 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 (World War II), they will be rapidly deployed to the hospitals of Gary, Chicago, and far beyond.”
GM and Ventec executives had their first conference calls to explore the effort on Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18. The next day, GM flew a team to Seattle to meet with the Ventec team. On Friday, March 20, GM rallied its global supply base and, within 72 hours, had developed plans to source all 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 DHHS awarded GM a contract under the Defense Production Act to build 30,000 Ventec V+Pro critical care ventilators.