Not so fast my friends, this is no ordinary auto business milestone, back in March, General Motors (GM) and Ford struck contracts with the federal government to manufacture ventilators in order to help combat shortages due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These contracts have now been fulfilled, but it was not without the support of some key partners along the way.
GM chose to partner with Ventec Life Systems, who specializes in respiratory devices. Once GM had retrofitted one of their engine plants in Kokomo, Indiana, production was underway and at a rapid pace. Their federal order of 30,000 ventilators was completed within 154 days from the project start date, averaging about one ventilator being completed every seven minutes, the Manufacturing Minute reports. Now that the contract is completed, GM has handed over operations of the Kokomo plant to Ventec who continues to produce ventilators.
One week after the GM contract, Ford stepped up and joined forces with GE Healthcare as they retrofitted their auto parts factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Ford contract was for 50,000 ventilators, and completed this week. They’ve now shifted their workers to other plants focusing back on auto manufacturing. All in all, GM negotiated their contract to the tune of $489 million dollars, while Ford earned $336 million for their contract. Although the focus of these contracts was on the ventilator production, both companies provided a huge boost in other personal protective equipment (PPE). Ford contributed over 75 million pieces of PPE including, 19 million face shields, 42 million face masks, 1.6 million washable isolation gowns, and more than 32,000 powered air purifying respirators. The GM/Ventec and Ford/GE combined ventures were able to employ over 1,500 people for several months all while ensuring the frontline healthcare workers had the tools necessary to save lives. CEO of Ventec Chris Kiple stated, “We are incredible proud of how our teams came together united by a common mission.”