GM has officially started training 1,000 workers to start building life-saving ventilators in Indiana.
A sizable training program is underway at General Motors as the company prepares to start producing life-saving ventilators at its Kokomo, Indiana plant to help with the US response to the novel coronavirus. In all, GM has started training a 1,000-strong workforce to build ventilators in Kokomo, the automaker said last Thursday, including both paid volunteers from GM's existing staff and brand-new hires from the local area.
As there is a risk of virus transmission between plant workers, GM says it will institute a number of measures aimed at mitigating that risk, prompting workers to wear face masks and sanitize their hands before starting work, and taking workers' temperatures using no-contact thermometers as they enter the workplace.
In addition, GM will ask employees to spend half-an-hour before and after their shifts to clean and sanitize their workstations, and cleaning crews will come through at least three times a shift to disinfect door handles and common areas.
Even after the Covid-19 outbreak begins to taper off and the US automakers resume production operations, some or all of those practices could continue, at GM and elsewhere, as many experts anticipate a number of localized outbreaks to occur for a time after this global outbreak subsides. Ford CEO Jim Hackett has publicly endorsed taking a similar approach after production restarts, even to the extent of using special temperature-sensing cameras to monitor factories for workers with fevers.
Speaking about GM's rapid moves to start ventilator production in Kokomo, GM's Executive VP of Global Manufacturing said: "People have moved mountains to help increase production of Ventec's critical care ventilator and we are just weeks away from delivering these lifesaving devices. I have never seen anything like it in my career."
By the time GM's Indiana plant is at full capacity, the facility will be putting out some 10,000 Ventec ventilators per month to the coronavirus front lines. Ordinarily, Kokomo serves as a components manufacturing plant, producing electrical systems for GM vehicles. It's around an hour's drive from GM's Fort Wayne, Indiana assembly plant, where the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are built.