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 According to a GM statement, the company will begin manufacturing FDA-approved "Level 1" surgical masks in Warren next week. Equipment for the temporary conversion of the Mound Road Powertrain production facility was slated for delivery on March 27.

According to a GM statement, the company will begin manufacturing FDA-approved "Level 1" surgical masks in Warren next week. Equipment for the temporary conversion of the Mound Road Powertrain production facility was slated for delivery on March 27.

File photo by Brian Louwers


GM to make surgical masks at Warren Powertrain plant

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published March 27, 2020

WARREN —  “The Arsenal of Democracy” is retooling to launch a mission of mercy. 

In a move reminiscent of the massive and critical American industrial contributions that helped defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during World War II,  General Motors Co. on March 27 announced a series of initiatives geared toward fast-tracking the production of medical and personal protective equipment needed to safe lives and battle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a GM statement, the company will begin manufacturing FDA-approved "Level 1" surgical masks in Warren next week. Equipment for the temporary conversion of the Mound Road Powertrain production facility was slated for delivery on March 27. Production will begin the week of March 29 and should reach 50,000 masks per day within two weeks, with the ability to increase that to 100,000 a day if needed. 

It was noted that daily production will be subject to the availability of materials needed to build the masks.

According to GM, this "employee-led initiative was created, planned and approved in about 48 hours and involves GM's traditional supply base as well as new partnerships specific to the medical device industry."

GM will reportedly collaborate with governments and local suppliers to distribute the masks. 

The company also announced plans to partner with Ventec Life Systems to build critical care ventilators at GM’s facility in Kokomo, Indiana. Shipments of FDA-cleared ventilators necessary to treat patients suffering respiratory distress as a result of the coronavirus are expected to ship as soon as next month. 

In a statement announcing the initiatives, GM indicated that it would donate its resources at no cost to help address a “global backorder of critical care ventilators capable of supporting patients fighting COVID-19,” with companies ramping up production by leveraging “a significantly expanded supply chain capable of supporting high volume production.”

“We are proud to stand with other American companies and our skilled employees to meet the needs of this global pandemic,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “This partnership has rallied the GM enterprise and our global supply base to support Ventec, and the teams are working together with incredible passion and commitment. I am proud of this partnership as we work together to address urgent and life-saving needs.”

GM’s Powertrain plant in Warren was among a list of facilities left “unallocated” in 2019. At the time of that announcement in late 2018, the plant employed approximately 335 workers, including 265 hourly employees. 

The 2.1-million-square-foot plant on the east side of Mound Road, north of Nine Mile Road, opened in 1941 and was purchased by GM in 1958. When it closed down it was set to produce six-speed transmissions for the GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS, as well as the electric drive units for the Chevy Volt, Malibu Hybrid and Buick Velite.