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COVID-19: JCB poised to start making ventilator housings

JCB ventilator housings

Company joins national call to action over ventilator shortage; mass production could start in days

JCB are poised to restart production at a factory closed as a result of the coronavirus crisis in order to join the national effort to manufacture ventilators, the company announced today.

JCB received a direct appeal from Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month to help plug the national ventilator shortage and to help save lives of coronavirus patients.

Following the approach, JCB chairman Lord Bamford promised the company would help in any way it could and immediately mobilized a research and engineering team to examine potential ways to assist.

Now JCB are ready to restart production at a factory which has been closed for nearly two weeks as a result of the coronavirus crisis, but instead of making cabs for JCB diggers, the plant is being mobilized to make special steel housings for a brand-new design of ventilator from Dyson.

A minimum of 10,000 of the JCB housings are earmarked for manufacture once Dyson receive regulatory approval for their design. Mass production of the housings could start in a matter of days.

The first prototypes of the housings have been delivered to Dyson after rolling off the production line at JCB’s £50 million Cab Systems factory in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, which Boris Johnson visited during last year’s election campaign.

The factory fell silent on 18 March 2020 along with eight other JCB UK manufacturing plants after a fall in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Today, JCB chairman Lord Bamford said: ‘When we were approached by the Prime Minister we were determined, as a British company, to help in any way we could.

‘This project has gone from design to production in just a matter of days and I am delighted that we have been to deploy the skills of our talented engineering, design and fabrication teams so quickly at a time of national crisis.

‘This is also a global crisis, of course, and we will naturally help with the production of more housings if these ventilators are eventually required by other countries.’

JCB’s response to the national call to action would see a return to work for around 50 employees affected by an extended company shutdown announced last week.

JCB suspended production at their nine UK production plants until at least the end of April as a result of the coronavirus crisis and furloughed the vast majority of their 6,500 workforce.

The company is paying staff 80% of their basic pay for the next month, regardless of what they earn. Employees returning to work to help manufacture the ventilator housings will be paid 100% of their normal pay.

Watch an interview with JCB's chief innovation and growth officer, Tim Burnhope, and some general views of the JCB Cab Systems factory in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, and the processes involved in the production of the ventilator housings.

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