Land Rover has released images of the first Range Rover to roll off the production line since social distancing measures were introduced. The left-hand-drive example left the Solihull factory, in the Midlands, yesterday (May 20), becoming the first car to be built since the coronavirus pandemic enforced a plant shutdown.
To restart production, the company has put a range of social distancing, hygiene, and health monitoring measures in place across its sites. Everything from production lines to communal spaces had to be looked into, and the firm says new protocols allowed it to start a "phased return" to production.
Although Land Rover confesses there have been "significant" changes to employees' working days, it says staff "health and wellbeing" are its key considerations. As a result, the firm has introduced checks with thermal cameras and physical separation of staff to maintain a two-meter gap wherever possible. Where such a gap is not possible, personal protective equipment (PPE) has been provided.
At the same time, the factories now have one-way systems and an "enhanced" cleaning regime. The company has also given staff face visors made by the firm, while staff must complete an online clinical questionnaire, sign up to a health and wellbeing charter, and monitor their temperature at home before a shift.
"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," said Grant McPherson, Jaguar Land Rover's executive director for manufacturing. "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 have 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."
Meanwhile Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover's chief medical officer, said the company would keep the situation under review and tweak measures for each plant depending on the guidance issued by those countries.
"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," he said. "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."