As we scale up our visor production operations, we now have the capability to make up to 14,000 visors every week to protect frontline healthcare workers. But who are the people working to produce and distribute these visors? We spoke to some of the team to find out how they are made and distributed…
Coordinating the production process
Emily Greenhalgh is responsible for coordinating the Jaguar Land Rover visor production project. “When I first joined the project, a hospital had reached out to JLR to see if we could help in supplying PPE, specifically face visors. The Additive Manufacturing Team had rapidly developed a face visor design that could be quickly manufactured using processes like 3D printing.
“I heard about the demand for visors and JLR’s initial efforts with the 3D printed face visor design,” said Emily. “I volunteered to get involved with the project as it is great way to feel like you can help, ensuring key workers putting themselves at risk are protected with appropriate PPE.”
After a few visors had been produced, Emily and the team worked with local hospitals to develop the design further, taking on board essential feedback around size, shape and cleaning processes. “Using the 3D printing facilities at Gaydon, we started to produce the face visors, increasing the volumes of production through reaching out to other local companies with 3D printing facilities. As production increased we moved the assembly of the face visors across to Whitley, setting up a production line using JLR volunteers to assemble the face visors.
Setting up safe areas for the visors to be made
Rob Harrison was initially approached by his manager to see if he would be interested in supporting the project due to his logistics experience. He explains, “The aim was to create an assembly area and logistic process to increase the production of NHS visors from 1,000 a week to over 5,000 per week. Initially a colleague (Dave Edwards) and I completed a 'recce' at Whitley. Within 24 hours a facility had been created and was fully operational. A process was developed to ensure the visors were assembled in a safe manner adhering to current social distancing measures”
Rob said, “I wanted to get involved in this project as I knew we could make a difference as a company and team. With our engineering expertise, I was confident the product would protect NHS and social care personnel fighting this virus. I was also up for the challenge!”
With high demand for the face visors, the team worked with supplier, WHS Plastics, to produce an injection moulding tool enabling the production to increase to up to 14,000 parts a week.
Managing the team
Paul Butlin is used to looking after a large team so when the challenge of coordinating the visor production team came along, he was ready for the task. “My role was to organise the right amount of people to support the project and maintain this as some volunteers had to return to their day jobs. I also had to organise getting them on and off site safely.”
Paul said “It was fantastic to see the willingness from people from all over the company to want to help with this important work, many of whom worked hard for up to five days a week when they could have easily been sat at home in the sun. We were not able to utilise all of the people that stepped forward as we were overwhelmed with offers to help.”
Lucy Wakefield is responsible for leading the distribution of face visors to key workers across the UK and managing the logistics of incoming supply to the JLR assembly line. Lucy said, “Through this role I have been the JLR point of contact for external organisations, providing them with product information, answering any queries and understanding their volume needs and urgency. I am also responsible for prioritising where available volume will be distributed and organising the day to day deliveries, providing our volunteer delivery drivers with the information they need to complete the drops. To date over 41,000 JLR face visors have been distributed to those in need.”
When asked about the importance of the project, Emily said “The JLR face visor provides essential protection required by so many medical staff and key workers, and with a worldwide shortage of the PPE in the COVID-19 crisis, we have been able to rapidly develop and produce essential PPE and get it to those who critically need it to do their job safely. The feedback we have had from medical staff has really inspired and powered the team through the challenges of this project, with all the people involved in the project going above and beyond to ensure it succeeds.”
We asked Lucy where the visors will be used: “Distribution has been targeted at all the three layers of NHS healthcare; Acute Care (Hospitals), Primary Care (GPs, COVID hot hubs, home visit teams) and Social Care (Hospices, Care Homes etc.). As we have been able to scale up the volume of production, we are now looking to expand our reach to those organisations in the private sector who also need support in allowing their workforce to carry out their jobs. Visors are a critical first line defence against the virus, and without this level of PPE many organisations are unable to carry out their work. Across the UK, healthcare professionals are now being advised to use full face visors rather than goggles due to their coverage and comfort.”
Lucy said, “Heading up the distribution side of the workstream, and through constant dialogue with healthcare professional, I have been exposed first hand to the dire need for PPE across the UK. However I am also fortunate to hear how grateful the recipients are and the difference the visors have been making to their lives on a daily basis. Although it has been tough work it has also been the most fulfilling experience.”
You can read more about Jaguar Land Rover visor production here.