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“It would be counterproductive for GM—or any other manufacturer—to compete for supplies with existing medical-mask companies,” said Shilpan Amin, vice president, GM Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.

So the OEM is working with the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) and the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) to coordinate efforts to help produce what is needed by healthcare workers and first responders.

GM Mask Production

Producing Level 1 Masks inside the GM plant in Warren, Michigan. (Photos: John F. Martin for GM)

According to Amin, “By making GM’s production processes available to the OESA”—which has more than 500 members—“and the MMA”—which has 1,700 member companies across all industries—“we hope to facilitate other companies’ efforts to bring more materials, more equipment and ultimately more face masks to the community.”

John Walsh, President and CEO, MMA, said, “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. GM’s efforts are a strong symbol of how manufacturing is driving solutions to solve this crisis.”

Companies interested in getting information on mask designs can find out more at the MMA site here or from the OESA here.

Ramping Up Warren Plant

GM went to equipment suppliers JR Automation and Esys Automation to develop and build special equipment that can produce face masks.

Mary Barra mask production

Mary Barra inside the Warren plant. While she is GM CEO now, earlier in her career she was GM vice president of Global Manufacturing Engineering, so she knows more than a little something about the factory floor.

GDC usually supplies GM with sound-deadening insulation. GDC worked with OXCO to transform their production processes to produce the three-layer fabric materials needed for the masks.

The Warren plant has the capacity to produce up to 1.5-million masks per month. This weekend it will be adding a second line for masks and a new line to produce filtering face piece respirators.

The Arsenal of Health

Kristin Dziczek, vice president of Industry, Labor & Economics at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), refers to the transformation of the auto industry in this time of crisis as the “Arsenal of Health.”

She couldn’t be more accurate.

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