GM Plans to Manufacture Face Masks to Help Frontline Workers

General Motors will deliver 20,000 masks on April 8th, 1.5 million per month at full capacity.

While the number of COVID-19 cases continue to grow in the United States, healthcare workers are finding supplies difficult to keep in stock. Shortages of masks, ventilators, and even Tylenol are starting to become a serious issue. GM looks to assist in helping workers and mask shortages by delivering its first 20,000 masks on April 8th and another 1.5 million per month while producing at full capacity.

On Friday, March 20, GM launched a rapid-response initiative to produce these essential masks at a massive scale. Seven days later, the first sample mask was produced using a new production line. GM had help from partners around the world who aided in the quick design and manufacturing process.

Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Monday, March 30, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Monday, March 30, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

“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 vice president, 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.”

Aaron Leitz sets-up and tests a machine that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

Aaron Leitz sets-up and tests a machine that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

A core team was swiftly assembled on March 20, and a deadline was set to have the production line and tests running within a week. This aggressive goal was undertaken by 30 engineers, design team members and manufacturing specialists.

Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

“The first people we called were those who work with fabric vehicle components,” said Karsten Garbe, GM plant director, Global Pre-Production Operations. “In a few days, the company’s seat belt and interior trim experts became experts in manufacturing face masks.”

GM used raw materials from the existing supply chain, which included metal nose pieces, elastic straps and blown, non-woven fabric filter material. JR Automation from Holland, Michigan and Esys Automation from Auburn Hills aided in programing and designing the custom machinery that would assemble the masks. On March 27 at 2:30 p.m., the production team held the very first mask fresh off the line.

Bruce Stone tests the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

Bruce Stone tests the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

“Not only did the team make their goal, but they over-delivered,” said 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.”

Once the production line is fully staffed and up to maximum capacity, GM will be able to produce 50,000 masks a day – or 1.5 million a month.

From all of us at LACar, we want to extend our gratitude and appreciation for the healthcare workers battling tirelessly at the front lines of this pandemic. We are all indebted to your dedication and hard work. Thank you.

Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Sunday, March 29, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

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