General Motors Co. in Detroit today announced it is increasing production capacity for face masks at its Warren facility. In addition, the automaker has shared its manufacturing plans with its suppliers along with the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and the Michigan Manufacturers Association to help other makers ramp up their own production efforts.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GM is currently producing face masks Warren and in China through a joint venture with SAIC-GM-Wuling. Studies are underway to launch similar initiatives in other countries.
The Warren facility can now produce up to 1.5 million face masks a month. Coordinating with the Michigan Community Service Commission, GM’s site in Warren has already delivered face masks to local hospitals. Over the weekend, the site will add two additional production lines: a second line for face masks and a new line for filtering facepiece respirators.
“Our ultimate goal is to get more masks to the people who desperately need them,” says Shilpan Amin, vice president of global purchasing and supply chain at GM. “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.”
For U.S. production, the company partnered with existing automotive suppliers to provide the materials and equipment necessary for mask production.
JR Automation in Holland and Esys Automation in Auburn Hills typically provide GM with automotive-manufacturing equipment. For GM’s face-mask production, the company built a mask line that automatically folds, welds, and cuts face masks.
GDC in Goshen, Indiana provides GM with sound-deadening insulation found in vehicle doors, headliners and trunks. To transition to making materials for GM’s face mask production, GDC enlisted the help of OXCO in Fort Mill, S.C.. Both companies’ employees worked around the clock and over weekends to alter their production processes for the manufacturing of three layers of fabric used to manufacture masks.
“The Michigan Manufacturers Association has 1,700 companies across all industries, and many are looking for ways to help during this crisis,” says John Walsh, president and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “GM’s production plans and their willingness to share design specifications will be extremely appreciated as our members accelerate their own efforts to help during this crisis.”
Julie A. Fream, president and CEO of the OESA, says “The 500+ members of OESA are honored to lend their manufacturing expertise in this initiative. For automotive suppliers, this is an excellent opportunity to champion the efforts of our healthcare workers and provide much needed PPE to help fight the global coronavirus pandemic.”
To learn more about how GM is producing masks in Warren, and General Motors’ other efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.
In Related News, GM today announced measures to bolster communities across the country, investing $2.7 million in 40 nonprofits and supporting employee volunteer and donation efforts.
“Our team at GM has shown ingenuity, creativity and heart as we face this pandemic,” says Mark Reuss, president of GM. “We have mobilized our manufacturing capacity to aid response efforts, and we’ve been actively engaged in our communities to help find solutions to new and compounding challenges, especially in education.”
Included in these efforts is a $1 million grant to the DonorsChoose Keep Kids Learning program, which provides $1,000 credits to 1,000 teachers in high-need school districts to help send basic resources like books, pencils, notebooks, food and cleaning supplies to students’ homes.
“When schools began closing last month, we surveyed over 4,000 teachers from the country’s highest-need districts and found that nearly 70 percent of their students lack resources to learn at home,” says Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose. “The unfortunate reality is, when students cannot go to school, the resources available in their homes are going to shape their education, which means coronavirus threatens to widen educational inequity. We’re grateful for General Motors’ support of our Keep Kids Learning program, to help teachers prepare their students to continue learning at home.”
An additional $1.7 million in grant funding is being deployed to GM facility communities across the country. Each facility dedicates funds to nonprofits providing critical services to their communities like food and housing assistance, small business support and at-home learning resources for parents, teachers and students.
Additionally, more than 2,100 GM employees have also volunteered to join the effort:
- 931 salaried employees have volunteered to help manufacture and deliver critical PPE from GM’s Warren, Michigan facility to area hospitals.
- 178 employees have donated more than $14,000 to support United Way’s local COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Funds and the DonorsChoose Keep Kids Learning program.
- 1,051 employees and their friends and families have pledged to the American Red Cross SleevesUp campaign.