Ventec's five-in-one ventilator.If there was ever a right time and a right place, Washington’s Ventec Life Systems would be in it. As the nation is held in the grip of a global pandemic, the shortage of ventilators has become sadly apparent.

Currently, there are only 160,000 ventilators in the United States and 12,700 more in the nation’s Strategic Supply, far short of the quantity medical experts say the U.S. will need in the coming months.

Enter Ventec and their innovative VOCSN ventilator, a nifty five-in-one system that is not only versatile, but at 18 pounds, fully portable. The machine is not only a ventilator, but also an oxygen concentrator, cough assist, suction and nebulizer.

The only problem – how to produce the tremendous quantities needed around the country.

Enter General Motors, who offered to partner with the Ventec, tapping into its global supply chain to source manufacturers and suppliers for the 700 parts each ventilator requires.

GM didn’t have to look far for one of its prime suppliers. Just down the road from Ventec is Cascadia Custom Molding, which makes about two dozen of the parts for the VOCSN. This includes the main chassis inside the machine, which contains 40 different brass inserts that other ventilator components connect into.

Washington’s advanced manufacturing supply chain has been a godsend in responding to the pandemic, say state officials. The state is fortunate to not only have a robust life science sector, which is at the forefront of developing a COVID-19 vaccine, but a diverse manufacturing network as well.

This sector has risen to the challenge on many fronts, from shifting on the fly to manufacture thousands of masks and gowns to making sure Ventec has the parts it needs to rapidly ramp up manufacturer, going from 150 units a month to more than 20,000 a month as GM opens one of its factories in the Midwest to build additional units.

Nearly 80% of the parts in the unit are made in the U.S. The other parts are being sourced from around the globe, thanks to GM’s worldwide network of purchasing agents.

But it all begins with the chassis. At current capacity, Cascadia can crank out 700 chassis a month. GM has asked that that rate be upped to 5,000 chassis a week, going from a five- to seven-day a week shift.

With any global supply chain, the weakest link can doom any project, no matter how big or how small it may be. Knowing that a critical piece was made in India – currently under quarantine – GM sent a team in to get the factory opened again, working with the Indian government to get the necessary permission and permits.

It just goes to show how important diversity in a state economy is. Washington has been able to quickly respond to a herculean challenge, finding new and innovative ways to tackle an ever changing landscape that is challenging the economy and our way of life.

Read more about the partnership between Ventec and GM.

Learn more about the company’s versatile new ventilator.