JCB are resuming production after receiving a direct appeal earlier in the month from British prime minister Borris Johnson to help combat the national ventilator shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A research and engineering team was assembled straight away after JCB chairman Lord Bamford promised the firm's assistance in the prime minister's appeal.

Production will begin in a matter of days at JCB’s cab systems factory in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire after been closed for nearly two weeks as result of the coronavirus outbreak. Around 50 employees are set to return to work. But instead of making cabs for diggers, the plant is now set to manufacturer steel housings for a new design of ventilator from vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson.

A minimum of 10,000 of JCB’s housings are to be manufactured once regulatory approval has been given to Dyson's design.

JCB’s chairman said: “When we were approached by the prime minister we were determined, as a British company, to help in any way we could. This project has gone from design to production in just a matter of days and I am delighted that we have been able 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.”

Last week we brought you the news that JCB closed nine of its UK-based factories as of 18 March and suspended production until at least the end of April due to the coronavirus outbreak. As result, the firm let go the majority of its 6,500 workforce but have committed to paying staff 80% of their basic pay for the coming month.