Coronavirus: JCB joins call to action over ventilator shortage30 March 2020

JCB is poised to start making ventilator housings after a national call to action from the UK Prime Minister

JCB is poised to re-start production at a factory closed as a result of the Coronavirus crisis in order to join the national effort to manufacture ventilators.

The firm received a direct appeal from Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month to help plug the national ventilator shortage. Following the approach, JCB Chairman Lord Bamford mobilised a research and engineering team to examine potential ways to assist.

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

A minimum of 10,000 housings are earmarked for manufacture once Dyson receives regulatory approval for its design. 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.

Video: Interview with JCB's chief innovation and growth officer
Tim Burnhope about the process involved in the production of
the ventilator housings.

Lord Bamford says: “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 able 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 the return to work for around 50 employees affected by an extended company shutdown. JCB suspended production at its nine UK production plants until at least the end of April as a result of the Coronavirus crisis and furloughed the vast majority of its 6,500 workforce. The company is paying them 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.

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Adam Offord

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