General Motors employees report their first business day on March 31, 2020 at GM’s Kokomo, Indiana manufacturing facility, where GM and Ventec Life Systems are partnering to manufacture critical care fans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A former General Motors automotive facility in Indiana will continue to build critical care fans after the expected completion of a $ 489.4 million government contract this month for 30,000 of the national stockpile devices.
GM will lease the building of its component complex in Kokomo, Indiana, to Ventec Life Systems, a company the manufacturer has partnered with to build the fans, as the first wave of Covid-1
“The entire GM team is stepping up and contributing to the better, but obviously our focus needs to focus on automotive manufacturing,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said on Wednesday. “Ventec is the expert here. We will step down and they will take responsibility once the contract is fulfilled.”
The companies are on track to fulfill the government’s fan contract by the end of the month, Flores said. So far, the facility has built and delivered more than 20,000 devices, according to officials.
Fans are crucial to saving lives during a coronavirus pandemic. Although their need has declined in recent months, the healthcare industry is preparing for a second jump of Covid-19.
The companies declined to disclose the terms of the lease or how long Ventec is expected to occupy the building.
General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra (and Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kipple talk to a worker as they tour GM’s Kokomo, Indiana manufacturing plant on April 14, 2020)
The facility employs about 800 people, including about 70 part-time GM employees, who are expected to return to their previous jobs or layoffs. The remaining employees – a combination of Ventec and contract or temporary workers – are expected to continue building fans for the Washington-based medical device company on demand.
“It was a dynamic and difficult situation from day one,” Chris Brooks, Ventec’s chief strategy officer, told CNBC about future employment. Further details are expected to be released as the companies sign the government contract, he said.
The companies announced they would manufacture the fans on March 27 after President Donald Trump criticized carmaker and CEO Mary Barra for not moving fast enough to produce life-saving fans and demanding a “high dollar” for it.
Following the announcement, Trump instructed GM to build the devices under the Defense Manufacturing Act, a Korean War law that could force some American companies to produce materials that are in short supply in times of crisis.