Posted Friday, May 08, 2020
Auto Manufacturers Shift Into High Gear To Help
May 8, 2020
Automakers have come to the rescue of healthcare workers and patients. Shutting down the assembly lines for automotive construction, manufacturers have transitioned their production lines from standard operations to specialized ones. They are fulfilling a desperate need for respirators, beds, transport vehicles, protective masks, and other equipment and supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. They have converted their operations within just a couple of months to help with the shortages of medical supplies.
The speed of transition from several manufacturers comes as a surprise. Manufacturers have been leaning, hastening, transforming, and adapting since surviving the 2001 recession, the 2008 recession, developing responsiveness unheard of in decades past.
• GM and Ventec Life Systems of Bothell, Washington, are partnering to begin delivering ventilators in April. The former Delco Electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana, is sourcing 700 parts to build up to 200,000 units. The operation will employ 1,000 workers, including those from Marion and Kokomo facilities.
• The former Warren Transmission Plant in Warren, Michigan, will produce 50,000 Level 1 facemasks per day within two weeks with the ability to ramp up to 100,000 per day.
• Ford's Rawsonville plant near Detroit will produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days in partnership with GE Healthcare. It will have the ability to produce 30,000 units per month after that.
• In the Smyrna, Tennessee plant will produce face masks for front line responders.
• Working to provide 3D printed face shields with mass production beginning in early April. The first batch will go to hospitals in Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan.
• Finalizing agreements to work with two companies in building ventilators and respirators.
• Seeking partners to produce COVID-19 masks.
• Offering lean manufacturing/engineering expertise to increase capacity for essential supplies. Organize hospitals and communities with efficient drive-through testing sites.
• Donating money to United Way, food banks, and other nonprofits.
• Donating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N-95 masks, from the company's inventory.
• Utilizing 3-D printers to manufacture visors for face shields.
• Investigating manufacturing needs related to medical equipment, including partnering with other companies.
• Hyundai Hope On Wheels expanding COVID-19 drive-through testing to 11 children's hospitals with $2.2 million in grants. The focus will be on children with cancer and compromised immune systems.
• 1 million facemasks for first responders.
• 10 million meals for kids.
• Promised more actions to come, including contributing to ventilator production.
Many question, when will the big automakers will also start up the vehicle production lines. Will they start all lines at once or in phases? Each company has its own plan. However, we were able to gather the following information:
On Thursday, April 27, 2020, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, and Toyota announced plans to resume production on automobiles.
Ford said it would resume production at five North American plants, including one in Mexico. Additionally, the Mexico plant will open on April 6, while four U.S. plants in Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio are set to open on April 14.
Fiat Chrysler said its U.S. and Canadian plants might reopen on April 14, depending on "the various state stay-in-place orders and the readiness of each facility to return to production."
Honda plans to reopen its U.S. and Canadian factories on April 7
Toyota plans to resume production on April 20.
General Motors has no plans to restart production just yet.
Nissan's manufacturing facilities in the U.S. will remain closed through late April as a measure to help protect employees and reduce the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
Hyundai has reopened its U.S. manufacturing plants, albeit on a single shift.
In conclusion, the auto industry is working to help all of us. Thank you to all these companies for stepping up. Good job, automakers.
Check out our other posts where we cover topics related to the automotive experience.