The first Range Rover made under new social distancing measures rolled off the production line at Jaguar Land Rover’s manufacturing plant in Solihull yesterday, following the recent temporary pause in production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Effective social distancing, hygiene and health monitoring measures are now in place following an extensive review of all production lines, engineering facilities, office areas and communal spaces as the company starts a phased return to manufacturing.
Employees’ health and wellbeing are at the centre of this plan and, with the implementation of the new protocol, staff will experience a significant number of changes to their working day from the moment they enter the site.
Measures include temperature checks with thermal cameras, a 2m distance between people wherever possible, personal protective equipment (PPE) where that is not the case, the introduction of one-way systems and enhanced cleaning at the plants. In addition, Jaguar Land Rover is offering every employee a reusable face visor made by the company.
Grant McPherson, JLR executive director (manufacturing), said: “Seeing the first Range Rover come off our line is a defining moment JLR, for all of us who work for the company and the many businesses in our supply chain. It marks the end of our temporary shutdown and signals the beginning of a return to normality. But, of course, this is a new normal.
“People will be experiencing many emotions, ranging from worry about hygiene to relief at being able to return to work and excitement at seeing colleagues again. The health and wellbeing of our employees has been our primary concern in the build-up to this point. Throughout the coming months, I know that as a team we will do all we can to ‘Stay safe. Be kind. Stay well’.”
In addition to new measures on site, workers will be asked to take additional actions before returning to work. These include completing an on-line clinical questionnaire, signing up to a health and wellbeing charter and monitoring their temperature at home before each shift.
Dr Steve Iley, JLR’s chief medical officer, said: “We have been going through unprecedented times and my thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by Covid-19, as well as with the healthcare professionals, whose role fighting coronavirus is appreciated around the world.
“Clearly the health, safety and wellbeing of the JLR family is our primary concern. We have developed the most effective protocol and guidelines so that our people feel reassured about coming back to the workplace.
“Our measures are based on extensive medical and operational review, including lessons learned from our teams in China and Slovakia. We continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation, following the guidance of all relevant authorities in the markets in which we operate, and will adapt quickly as that guidance changes.”
Des Quinn, Unite the Union national officer, said: "We are satisfied that JLR has not only implemented Government guidance but has gone above and beyond to satisfy and ensure as many safe systems as possible are in place from the minute employees arrive to the minute they leave work."
Production of JLR vehicles has also resumed this week at Nitra (Slovakia) and Graz (Austria). Last week the team at the Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton began building Ingenium engines again to enable the gradual return to vehicle production. Manufacturing will also resume at Halewood on 8 June, starting with one shift. Small pockets of business-critical activity are taking place at Castle Bromwich as JLR prepares for new model introductions.
The company’s joint-venture plant in Changshu in China has been operational since the middle of February as vehicle sales recover there and customers return to showrooms following the easing of the lockdown.
As countries are relaxing distancing guidelines and retailers are re-opening around the world, the restart of production at the company’s other plants will be confirmed in due course.