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Thursday, 10 September 2020 16:10

GM, Ford Shutting Down the ‘Arsenal of Health’

Written by Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau
Ford produced the last of its contracted 50,000 face masks Aug. 28 and wrapped up all pandemic-related production the following week. Ford produced the last of its contracted 50,000 face masks Aug. 28 and wrapped up all pandemic-related production the following week.

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General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are wrapping up production of ventilators, face masks and other life-saving personal-protection equipment, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has become known as the “Arsenal of Health.”

Working with its partner, Ventec Life Systems under a $489 million federal contract, GM delivered the last of 30,000 ventilators Aug. 31. Ford topped 50,000 of the ventilators it was contracted to build Aug. 28 but formally wrapped up production the following week.

 

“Our drive to put critical care ventilators into production was fueled by thousands of people at GM, Ventec and our suppliers who all wanted to do their part to help save lives during the pandemic,” Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, in a statement announcing the end of the production program. “It was inspiring to see so many people achieve so much so quickly.”

 

The two automakers were among the many U.S. companies that stepped in to assist as the coronavirus pandemic struck and it became obvious there was a severe shortage of supplies, especially the PPE required by medical personnel, as well as equipment like ventilators needed to treat the most severely ill patients.

 

Ford and GM announced they would team up with existing suppliers, GM with Washington-based Ventec Life Systems, Ford with GE Healthcare. Even as they shut down their parts and assembly plants due to the pandemic, they each carefully converted several facilities to handle production of the medical gear.

 

Ford has been producing ventilators at a suburban Detroit factory, with several others handling face shields and masks.

 

GM tooled up ventilator production at an electronics plant in Kokomo, IN, with other plants handling masks.

 

Over the course of a 154-day run, GM rolled out one ventilator, on average, every seven minutes, 30,000 in all. Ford ran at an even faster pace, ventually completing 50,000 Model A-E ventilators under a $336 million federal contract.


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