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COVID-19: ‘We would do it all again’ says JCB boss

Ventilator housing prototypes

Lord Bamford proud of research and engineering team as ventilator housing line is stood down

JCB yesterday [Monday] stood down production lines which had been poised to produce thousands of special housings for a new type of ventilator. The housings were being made for the CoVent device produced by Dyson and TTP as part of the national Ventilator Challenge.

On Friday, the Cabinet Office confirmed that, following re-assessment by a panel of expert clinicians, it was ending support for the CoVent and four other devices because they would require further development before they would be ready for clinical testing, and they were not currently required to meet immediate demand.

JCB joined a national call to action to tackle the ventilator shortage in March and restarted production at a plant in Staffordshire – closed because of the coronavirus crisis – to produce ventilator housing prototypes.

JCB chairman Lord Bamford had promised the company would help in any way it could after a government appeal to help plug the shortage and he immediately mobilized a research and engineering team to examine ways to assist.

Yesterday the company confirmed it had stood down its production lines at JCB Cab Systems, in Uttoxeter, which had been ready to make up to 10,000 housings.

Lord Bamford said: ‘We have stood ready to help in any way we could in the production of housings for a new type of ventilator and our production lines were in a position to start manufacturing immediately.

‘I’m very proud of all the hard work the team has put into this project and as a British company we would do it all again to help at a time of national need.’

The first prototypes to roll off the line at the £50 million Cab Systems factory underwent several design iterations. The original prototype in JCB yellow was made out of steel before the team worked on a new design, manufactured in aluminium and painted in NHS white and grey.

The project went from design to production in a matter of days after JCB deployed a talented engineering, design and fabrication team to answer the national call for help. The company has also been offering logistics expertise to support other ventilator manufacturers.

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