Engineers at AGCO’s Beauvais plant in northern France have started assembling face shields instead of tractors using a newly-installed additive or 3D printing system to produce the frame. The shields are destined for a local hospital in response to an industrial campaign to meet immediate demand for 13,000 units at 94 hospitals and medical centers across France.

Boussad Bouaouli, vice president manufacturing, said the new additive printing facility is part of new investments at Beauvais and was scheduled to commence producing shortrun parts for the tractor assembly lines on the first day of April. But with usual operations at the plant brought to a standstill by the coronavirus epidemic, the equipment has been programmed to make the face shield frames instead.

The Massey Ferguson Additive Manufacturing team is handling the operation, with Hewlett Packard providing the printing compound and sports equipment maker Decathlon the transparent plastic shield.

JCB’s catering teams, meanwhile, are preparing more than 37,000 meals a week for distribution in communities around its factories in the UK and India. This comes at the suggestion of Lady Bamford, wife of group chairman Lord Anthony Bamford.

The company’s UK catering staff are currently preparing 2,000 minced beef and potato cottage pies a week for distribution through a local community charity to children and families in need.

JCB says the scale of the operation in India is bigger, since the coronavirus outbreak has caused huge disruption to people’s lives. Some 45 staff there have been mobilized to cook more than 35,000 meals a week in company canteens for the most vulnerable.

The UK headquarters factory is also developing fabricated housing for a medical ventilator being developed by a consortium of manufacturers.