AGENCIES, Detroit: It’s a time of crisis which needs more than one source to cope with, given the seriousness of the pandemic which is leading to shortage of ventilator systems in US hospitals.
While several automakers in the US have temporarily suspended production of cars, they are not close to the idea of helping out in this crisis period by offering logistic support or even manufacturing ventilators for the health industry. Most carmakers have state-of-the-art machines like 3-D printers which can be programmed for bio-medial production like ventilators.
For starters, General Motors is partnering with Seattle-based medical device company Ventec Life Systems to increase production of ventilators that will treat patients.
“We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis.”
The Ventec-GM partnership is in cooperation with StopTheSpread.org, the nation’s coordinated private sector response to the virus. Ventec will rely on GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build ventilators.
The collaboration comes days after President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, established in 1950 in response to production needs during the Korean War. The Act was put into effect to obtain health and medical resources needed to respond to the virus, including medical and protective equipment.
GM has not yet said wherever ventilators will be assembled at the company’s plants and whether UAW members will build them. “This is the first step. We are exploring all options,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement.
Volkswagen Group said that it was also joining other manufacturers around the world to explore using 3D printing to make hospital ventilators to combat the coronavirus.
Governments are also enlisting Ford, Ferrari and Nissan to help ramp up production of ventilators and other equipment they are short of to treat the fast-spreading disease.