GM's tradespeople switching from crafting show cars to creating healthcare equipment
Teams made up of metal, paint, trim, wood, mold, and plaster tradespeople at General Motors typically spend their days creating unique one-off vehicles like show cars. Now, they're spending their time assembling protective gowns and aerosol boxes at the Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan as part of the automaker's response to the COVID-1 9 pandemic.
"Our team members are experts at solving problems on the fly and creating things from scratch," said Hart. "The dedication, abilities and spirit of collaboration from our skilled tradespeople has been humbling. They are working longer hours than ever on a voluntary basis to fulfill urgent requests from doctors, nurses and other professionals on the front lines."
GM employees are designing personal protective equipment. Photo courtesy of General Motors
Workers from GM's color and trim departments have sewed samples of protective gowns made from old car covers that were distributed to local hospitals for evaluation. The final version of the gowns, which have been approved for use, have been made from Tyvek supplied by the Henry Ford Health System. They're lightweight (approximately two ounces), breathable, and protective.
While GM is designing gowns in-house, Ford has worked with its airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems to create reusable gowns made from the material that is used to make Ford's airbags. Production of the personal protective equipment is anticipated to scale up to 100,000 gowns for the week of April 19. By July 4, Joyson Safety Systems will be able to cut and sew 1.3 million gowns, which are self-tested to federal standards and are washable up to 50 times.
Volkswagen is working with supplier Faurecia to produce masks and gowns for front-line workers. Faurecia is now able to make an estimated 250,000 masks and 50,000 gowns per week. Volkswagen earmarked the first run of the products to New York State's COVID-19 response efforts.