GM has commenced face mask production for workers across the country, hoping to protect them from the COVID-19 pandemic. By next week, the carmaker expects to deliver its first 20,000 masks to frontline workers.
More than 30 engineers, designers, buyers and manufacturing team members were asked to help with product development, sourcing materials and equipment, while also planning the actual 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 GM exec Peter Thom. “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.”
In order to source the necessary raw materials for production, the team leveraged GM’s existing supply chain. This way they were able to make the metal nose pieces, elastic straps and blown, non-woven fabric filter material. The US carmaker also worked together with JR Automation and Esys Automation to design and manufacture the custom machinery needed to build the masks.
The very first production-made mask was ready at 2:30 PM on Friday, March 27.
“Not only did the team make their goal, but they over-delivered,” added Thom. “They actually beat our deadline, running the first mask through the equipment 30 minutes ahead of target. We’re excited because this means we’re even closer to being able to protect the healthcare teams who are working tirelessly to save lives.”
The team needed just a weekend to produce 2,000 masks. At full strength, GM expects to make 50,000 masks per day – or up to 1.5 million per month.