Boeing to close multi-million pound Sheffield factory - but is ‘on standby’ to manufacture ventilators

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Aerospace giant Boeing has closed its multi-million pound factory in Sheffield amid the coronavirus crisis.

But the firm, which launched in Sheffield in October 2018 – the company’s first operation in Europe – said it remains on standby to manufacture ventilators should they be needed by the NHS if the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

In a statement, Boeing said: “Boeing Sheffield operations have been temporarily suspended and colleagues asked to work from home because of the Covid-19 public health emergency until at least 15 April 2020.

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Boeing has closed its factory in Sheffield during the coronavirus outbreakBoeing has closed its factory in Sheffield during the coronavirus outbreak
Boeing has closed its factory in Sheffield during the coronavirus outbreak

“Boeing is drawing on all of its resources to sustain operations, support its workforce and customers, and maintain supply chain continuity through the Covid-19 crisis and for the long term.

“Should the UK government need Boeing Sheffield for ventilator production during this time, there is a team ready and able on standby to support national efforts.”

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The government has ordered 10,000 ventilators to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic, billionaire entrepreneur Sir James Dyson has said.

In an email to staff, the inventor said his company designed the ‘CoVent’ at the request of Boris Johnson, and promised to donate 5,000 to the international relief effort.

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Sir James said teams of engineers had been working solidly on the design since receiving the call from the Prime Minister 10 days ago, and the UK government had placed an initial order of 10,000 units.

He added: “We have received an initial order of 10,000 units from the UK Government, which we will supply on an open-book basis.

“We are also looking at ways of making it available internationally.”

The company is now waiting for the design to receive regulatory approval so manufacturing can commence.

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The battery-powered machine has been designed for use in different settings, including field hospitals and when patients are being transported.

Sir James said the device draws on technology used in the company's air purifier ranges, and is powered by a digital motor.

“The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time. The race is now on to get it into production,” he said.

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