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GM Turns Shuttered, Abandoned Michigan Factory into Mass Producer of Medical Face Masks

March 31, 2020 (EIRNS)—In November 2018, as part of its cost-cutting campaign, General Motors cut 4,000 white-collar workers, and shut down four U.S. auto factories, one of which was the plant at Warren, Michigan. The innards of the Warren plant, including its valuable machine tools, were left idle. Now GM has broken profile, and reopened the Warren plant to convert it, a perspective that Lyndon LaRouche proposed for entire sections of the shutdown or misused layers of the auto industry in 2005.

The Warren plant used to produce seat belts and interior trim; now the personnel are becoming experts at manufacturing face masks. The March 31 Detroit Free Press reports that “More than 30 engineers, designers, buyers and members of GM’s manufacturing team helped to develop the machinery and materials, such as metal nose pieces, elastic straps and blown, nonwoven fabric filter materials, to make the masks. They also laid out a plan for the production process.”

On March 20, GM started gutting the Warren facility. GM cleared nearly 31,000 square feet of space to accommodate the mask production lines. The crews installed new electrical service lines, some of which were made by JR Automation in Holland, Michigan and Esys Automation in Auburn Hills. In just one week, GM’s first prototype mask rolled off the line. “It was amazing to see how fast the team pulled it off,” said Monte Doran, a GM spokesman, stating “it would typically take about two months to retool a plant to build a new product, and GM and the workers did it in seven days.”

By April 8, the first 20,000 face masks will roll off the line for distribution to offset a severe shortage of production of masks caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. GM plans to get production to 50,000 masks per day, or 1.5 million per month, and then perhaps to as many as 100,000 masks per day. This is just one of the several facilities that would need to start producing masks.

As the automotive sector rekindles its capabilities through reconversion—and it could soon be joined by the aerospace sector—the question is raised whether now isn’t the time to permanently reconvert a healthy portion of this capacity to the mass production of nuclear power plants; prefabricated quality modular units for the production of hospitals, which is how many Chinese hospitals are built; high-speed and maglev rail; tractors, nuclear plants, water systems and hospitals for Africa, Asia and Ibero-America. Out of this crisis, the time for LaRouche’s vision has come.

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