On Wednesday, 20 May, the first Range Rover made under new social distancing measures drove off the production line at Jaguar Land Rover’s manufacturing plant in Solihull, following a recent temporary pause in production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement: “Effective social distancing, hygiene and health monitoring measures are 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 two-metre distance between people wherever possible, Personal Protective Equipment 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, Jaguar Land Rover executive director for manufacturing, said: “Seeing the first Range Rover come off our line today is a defining moment for Jaguar Land Rover, 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 onsite, colleagues will be asked to take additional actions before returning to work. These include completing an online clinical questionnaire, signing up to a health and wellbeing charter, and monitoring their temperature at home before each shift.
Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover’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 Jaguar Land Rover 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 Jaguar Land Rover 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 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles has also resumed this week at Nitra (Slovakia) and Graz (Austria). Last week the team at the Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton (UK) began building Ingenium engines again to enable the gradual return to vehicle production. Manufacturing will resume at Halewood (UK) on 8 June, starting with one shift. Small pockets of business-critical activity are taking place at Castle Bromwich as Jaguar Land Rover prepares for new model year introductions.
The company’s joint-venture plant in Changshu (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 reopening around the world, the restart of production at the company’s other plants will be confirmed in due course.
- The Solihull plant is 300 acres or 1,214,100m² (size of a small town) and has six Build Halls (2 x Trim & Final, 1x Paint, 2 x Body in White, 1 x Press), each with individual requirements and processes that had to be considered before robust social distancing measures could be implemented.
- For example, in some areas of the assembly line, such as In Process Testing, the normal working practices allow 2m distance between individuals. However, in other areas such as bumper installation, it is not possible to achieve the 2m distance due to the nature of the task involved. At these stations, employees receive the appropriate level of Personal Protective Equipment to complete that stage of the manufacturing process.
- In the assembly halls, associates carry out over 800 different jobs, fitting on average 2,800 components to each vehicle.
- Approximately 2,500 employees are on site from this week.
- Over a thousand signs have been put up, reminding staff about social distancing.
- One-way systems have been introduced around the 300-acre site.
- 20 thermal imaging cameras on site can read a person’s temperature almost instantaneously.
- Hundreds of litres of bespoke hand sanitiser have been produced at the Solihull factory, following WHO guidelines. Pocket-sized bottles will be given to everyone as they return to work (Solihull and EMC).