AFTER A period of shutdown, Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) manufacturing facility at Solihull has resumed production after instituting a range of measures to cope with the Covid-19 threat. It is, perhaps, a tacit acknowledgement that car manufacturing life won’t be going back to the old ‘normal’. And perhaps it never will.
The first post-shutdown Range Rover, a left-hand drive version, rolled of the line this week after the new rules were brought into effect. Every aspect of JLR’s operation had been assessed prior to reopening, including production lines, offices, engineering areas and all communal spaces. Primary measures include temperature checks with thermal cameras, a two-metre distancing between employees and lots of hand washing. Where the two-metre distancing is not possible, JLR will supply employees with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), which includes a reusable face visor that’s actually made by JLR. There is also the introduction of a ‘one-way’ system to prevent workers from having to pass each other in confined spaces. That’s a measure many will be familiar with from their local grocery stores.
Dr. Steve Iley, JLR’s Chief Medical Officer, offered clarification: “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.”
JLR employees will also be tasked with checking their own condition before coming in to work. That will involve taking their temperature and completing an online clinical questionnaire.
Grant McPherson, JLR Executive Director, Manufacturing, acknowledged the changed environment: “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.”
And crucially, Des Quinn, Unite the Union National Officer, is completely on side with JLR’s handling of the pandemic: “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.”
What now? Well, hopefully JLR will institute a rigorous testing and tracing program to track how successful their measures will be. Hopefully, this could also be a model for how others can carefully and safely resume business.