Engineering consultancy Ricardo said it was about to go into production manufacturing face shields which will be used by frontline NHS healthcare staff in the UK as well as by key workers in the care home sector. Jaguar Land Rover is also ramping up production of such protective visors in both the UK and Brazil.
The company will donate shields produced at facilities in Shoreham by Sea in West Sussex and Leamington Spa, Warwickshire which are being repurposed as assembly lines and logistics centres.
The face shield is being produced to a bespoke Ricardo design, leveraging its design, engineering and manufacturing expertise. A prototype was delivered by the company's in-house rapid prototyping team and facilities. However, it was quickly realised that rapid prototyping would not provide the volumes of face shields needed or at the speed required.
So it used its manufacturing supply chain expertise to engage with an injection moulding partner, to create a tool capable of high volume manufacture.
Using this bespoke tooling, and its engineering design expertise, the team took the opportunity to refine the original rapid prototype design of the face shield for enhanced comfort over extended periods of wear, inviting local NHS doctors to test the new face shield design for comfort and wearability. Tooling and the first batch of units is already in progress and Ricardo will make its first donation of face shields to NHS staff and key frontline workers shortly after Easter.
It is looking to make similar initiatives at its facilities in Europe and the US, for the benefit of local communities. The company has also offered its services to support the rapid design or conversion of vehicles for use as ambulances and as other support vehicles, and has offered the use of some facilities for testing or as logistic centres.
Separately, Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover, which has loaned over 300 vehicles around the globe for front line antivirus work, said it had started production and delivery of NHS-approved protective visors with the ambition to produce 5,000 a week in the UK.
Jaguar Land Rover Brazil is also now producing protective visors in Itatiaia, the Rio de Janeiro facility, to support local health workers.