JCB is using one of its facilities to make ventilator housings
By Diego Flammini
An ag equipment manufacturer is helping local hospitals care for patients fighting COVID-19.
JCB’s plant in Uttoxeter, England usually makes cabs for diggers. Instead, employees will now help make steel housings for ventilators designed by vacuum company Dyson.
The ventilators help patients breathe when they are too sick to do so on their own.
Dyson still needs to receive the proper approvals before large-scale production can begin.
The English government approached JCB and other companies in mid-March to make the housings and has already placed an order for 10,000 complete ventilators.
“We were determined, as a British company, to help in any way we could,” Paul Bamford, chairman of JCB, said in a video discussing the company’s willingness to assist.
Designers from Dyson and JCB have collaborated to develop the right housing to fit all the ventilator wiring components.
The JCB team took drawings, turned them into individual parts and used high-tech lasers to cut the pieces out. The team then cleaned, painted and powder coated the pieces for quality.
The JCB team are sending the prototypes to Dyson where its team can determine if the housings are useable or need any tweaks.
“We’re determined, as two businesses, to get the solution as fast as we possibly can,” Bamford said.
Shifting production from equipment to ventilators also helped people return to work.
Drops in demand because of COVID-19 led JCB to suspend operations at its nine U.K. plants. The Uttoxeter plant has been closed for about two weeks.
Employees returning to work on the ventilators will receive full pay.
In addition to making the housings, JCB has donated 8,000 pairs of gloves to the Royal Stoke Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, England.