SOUTHFIELD, MI — Parts suppliers for General Motors Co. are preparing to manufacture parts for at least 200,000 ventilators in an effort to prevent a projected shortage of the machines.
Michigan based Meridian Lightweight Technologies Holdings Inc. is helping GM procure six different ventilator compressor parts made of magnesium for an estimated 200,000 ventilators, according to Joe Petrillo, director of North American sales for Meridian.
The parts are too small for Meridian's machines, but it's connected GM with Twin City Die Castings Inc. in Minneapolis and Myotek, Michigan, which operates manufacturing plants in Manistee and China.
Fenton, Michigan based Creative Foam Corp. plans to start manufacturing foam parts for ventilators as part of the GM response and expects to begin shipping parts as soon as this week.
“We coalesced as an industry,” says Petrillo.“Usually we (Meridian, Twin City and Myotek) compete, but in this circumstance, we're not competitors.”
The Society of Critical Care Medicine projects that 960,000 coronavirus patients may become critically ill in the U.S. and need to be put on ventilators. The organization estimates there are only about 200,000 ventilators in the country.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that the State Emergency Operations Center is working to find creative ways to bring more ventilators to Michigan. It's estimated the state has only 1,000 right now.
“We are working to see how we can increase the number of ventilators in our state,” Whitmer says. “I feel like we are making some progress, but if the federal government is able to procure some ventilators and ship them to Michigan we will be incredibly grateful.”
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday, “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?”
Representatives from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House did not immediately provide an answer as to whether the U.S. government was going to buy the additional ventilators.
“We're off and running. The tool shops are designing tools right now,” says Eric Showalter, CEO of Myotek. “We're able to at least start to kick off tools in China to build these things. If we get paid, we get paid. We're all just trying to help where we can.”
GM announced Friday that it partnered with Washington based Ventec Life Systems to increase production of its ventilators. Ventec will leverage GM's logistics, purchasing and manufacturing prowess, the automaker said. It's unclear whether GM is establishing another assembly line at Ventec's production plant or will manufacture the additional ventilators at one of its plants.