Two weeks ago, auto giant General Motors announced that they plan on making 1.5 million face masks to help front line health workers. Thanks to a rapid-response project that allowed GM to procure and produce the face masks on a massive scale, they can achieve it.
But they still need some help. To that end, GM wants to help other companies to ramp up their own production efforts in order to supply those on the front line. To do this, the company shared its face mask manufacturing plans with the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA), as well as the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA). The member companies of those associations generally supply the wider US auto industry with all kinds of parts.
“Our ultimate goal is to get more masks to the people who desperately need them,” said Shilpan Amin, GM vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “And 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.”
With 1,700 companies under the MMA, the association deeply appreciates what GM did to help other industries give back to those on the front line. John Walsh, MMA president, and CEO stated that GM's willingness to share design specifications will help accelerate their own efforts to help during this crisis. Walsh also mentioned that GM's efforts are a strong symbol of how manufacturing is driving solutions.
As for OESA, which has about 500 members, they are honored to lend a hand. “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,” said Julie A. Fream, president and CEO of OESA.
Now while this might mean GM will start cutting factory production, the company said that they actually plan to put up two additional production lines in the Warren facility. One of the lines will be solely for making face masks, while the other one will be for filtering face-piece respirators. With the company benefiting from a machine that automatically folds, welds, and cuts face masks, GM could well make more than 1.5 million face masks soon.
With the number of confirmed cases in the US nearing 600,000, GM's willingness to share its plans with other manufacturers will surely help the country's health workers and front liners.