JCB joins national effort to manufacture ventilators

JCB is poised to start making ventilator housings after a national call to action from the prime minister
JCB is poised to start making ventilator housings after a national call to action from the 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 UK agri machinery firm received a direct appeal from the prime minister to help plug the national ventilator shortage and to help save lives of Covid-19.

Following the approach, JCB Chairman Lord Bamford mobilised a research and engineering team to examine potential ways to assist.

Now the company is 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 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 of the JCB 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 Staffordshire, which Boris Johnson visited during the election campaign.

The factory fell silent on 18 March along with eight other of its UK plants after a fall in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis. But mass production of the housings could start in a matter of days.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: "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 the return to work for around 50 employees affected by an extended company shutdown announced last week.

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.