JCB to join ‘national effort’ to address ventilator shortage

JCB is set to re-start production at one of its factories, which had been closed due to the coronavirus crisis, to take part in a national effort to manufacture ventilators, the firm announced today, Monday, March 30.

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

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 – however, 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 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 Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.

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

Commenting, Lord Bamford said:

This project has gone from design to production in just a matter of days.

“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.”

The move will see around 50 employees affected by an extended company shutdown return to work.

Production suspended

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.

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.