General Motors, Ford, Rolls-Royce and other companies are talking to governments about converting idled factories to make vital goods to fight the coronavirus such as ventilators and surgical masksBy TOM KRISHER AP Auto WriterMarch 21, 2020, 7:27 PM5 min readDETROIT — Factories that crank out cars and trucks looking into making much-needed ventilators. Distilleries intended for whiskey and rum to instead turn out hand sanitizers and disinfectants. And an electronics maker that builds display screens repurposed for surgical masks. All are answering the call of duty amid a pandemic that has so far claimed more than 11,000 lives and sickened 260,000 people globally. But redirecting plants to make completely different products will take a long time and a huge effort — possibly too long for some companies to help with medical gear shortages that are becoming more acute every day. “When you are repurposing a factory, it really depends on how similar the new product is to the existing products in your product line,” said Kaitlin Wowak, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on industrial supply chains. “It’s going to be a substantial pivot to start producing an entirely different item.” On Friday, President Donald Trump


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