GM Aims to Produce 1.5 Million COVID-19 Masks Per Month
Over a span of just a few weeks, GM has ramped up an effort to produce thousands — and eventually millions — of face masks to shield essential workers from the spread of COVID-19.
Starting March 20, a General Motors team made up of engineers, designers, manufacturing experts, and others launched an aggressive project to plan, develop, and set up mask production at the automaker’s plant in Warren, Michigan. The deadline: one week.
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Team members obtained materials from the GM supply chain (including elastic straps, fabric, and metal nose pieces), set up customized equipment for mask making, and devised an efficient and speedy production process.
“Our team began looking at ways we could quickly utilize our talents and resources to help in the shared fight against COVID-19,” said Peter Thom, GM’s vice president of global manufacturing engineering. “Working around the clock, our team rallied with incredible passion and focus to come up with a plan to produce masks that will help protect the women and men on the front lines of this crisis.”
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After seven days devoted to designing and testing the product, sourcing the materials to make it, and building the machinery to produce it, the team completed its first mask 30 minutes ahead of its one-week deadline.
Now that the groundwork has been laid, GM is moving full speed ahead with production. As of tomorrow, the team plans to have 20,000 COVID-19 masks ready to deliver. And that’s just the beginning.
When it’s running at its intended capacity, the new GM production line should be able to turn out 50,000 masks per day. That adds up to 1.5 million masks a month — masks that will soon be distributed to help protect healthcare workers and others who are on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 virus and providing key services.
A longtime editor/writer and recently transplanted Hoosier, Caleb Cook lives in Xenia, Ohio. His favorite activities are reading and listening to music, although he occasionally emerges from the heap of books and vinyl records in his basement to stand blinking in the sunlight. Once fully acclimated to the outside world again, he can be observed hanging out with his wife, attempting a new recipe in the kitchen, attending movies, walking the dog, or wandering into a local brewery to inquire about what’s on tap. See more articles by Caleb.