KOKOMO — General Motors is partnering with Ventec Life Systems to mass produce ventilators at its manufacturing facility in Kokomo.
The companies are already working to set up the plant to make the critical care ventilator, according to a press release from GM. Depending on the federal government's need for the ventilators, the plant can make more than 10,000 per month.
The ventilators are scheduled to start being shipped in April, according to the release. The plant can produce more ventilators each month if needed.
“This unique partnership combines Ventec’s respiratory care expertise with GM’s manufacturing might to produce sophisticated and high-quality critical care ventilators,” Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple said in the release. “This pandemic is unprecedented and so is this response, with incredible support from GM and their suppliers. Healthcare professionals on the front lines deserve the best tools to treat patients and precision critical care ventilators like VOCSN are what is necessary to save lives."
About 1,000 workers will immediately start working on making the ventilators, according to the release. GM is working with the United Auto Workers to bring back employees from its plants in Kokomo and Marion to help with production.
GM's Kokomo plant typically makes precision electrical components, according to the release.
Both companies have been working since March 20 to implement this plan, according to the release.
On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum under the Defense Production Act and ordered GM to make the ventilators.
Trump released the following statement regarding the Defense Production Act:
"Today, I signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators. Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives."
GM is also temporarily converting its plant in Warren, Mich. to make Level 1 surgical masks, according to the release. Production of the masks will start next week and about 50,000 masks will be made per day in about two weeks. The plant can make up to 100,000 masks per day depending on the amount of materials available.