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  1. ITV Report

JCB to re-open factory to help with ventilator scheme

JCB says it's ready to re-open a factory that closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, in order to help manufacture more ventilators. Credit: ITV News

The Staffordshire-based digger company, JCB, says it's ready to re-open a factory that closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, in order to help manufacture more ventilators.

JCB received a direct appeal from Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month and it's now formed part of a national effort to produce the equipment.

It's believed that the company will be responsible for building the metal housing for a ventilator which has been designed by Dyson.

"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."

– Lord Bamford

Mass production of the housings could start at its re-purposed cab production line in Uttoxeter, "in a matter of days", JCB said.

The consortium, which also includes Rolls-Royce, is ready to start producing medical devices under the name Project Oyster. It's also scaling-up production of an existing design, known as Project Penguin.

The devices take over the body's breathing function, pushing air into the lungs while a person is seriously ill with Covid-19, giving the patient time to fight the infection and recover.

The Ventilator Challenge UK consortium said it has taken about a week to meet exacting specifications developed by clinicians for a rapidly manufactured ventilator system.

"This consortium has brought together the very best of British engineering and manufacturing. It will be key in our efforts to ramp up ventilator capacity and overcome coronavirus. Over 3,000 companies answered the Prime Minister's call for ventilator production and their help will be vital as we make our way through this turbulent period."

– Nadhim Zahawi, Business and Industry Minister
It's believed that the company will be responsible for building the metal housing for a ventilator designed by Dyson. Credit: JCB
The devices take over the body's breathing function, pushing air into the lungs while a person is seriously ill Credit: PA

On Monday, the consortium, which also includes several UK-based Formula One teams including McLaren, Mercedes and Williams, said it has received a formal order for 10,000 devices and could produce more, if needed.

There is expectation of a "straightforward and very prompt regulatory sign-off" among the consortium, following a final audit, with production understood to be ready to start this week.