Ricardo gears up to assemble face shields

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As a part of the UK’s effort to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against Covid-19, Ricardo has reassigned some of its production capability to manufacturing face shields for use by frontline NHS healthcare staff as well as by key workers in the care home sector. Facilities at Ricardo’s Technical Centres at Shoreham by Sea in West Sussex and Leamington Spa are being repurposed as assembly lines and logistics centres for the face shields.

The face shields are being produced to a bespoke Ricardo design, leveraging the automotive consultancy’s design, engineering and manufacturing expertise. A prototype was initially delivered by the company’s in-house rapid prototyping team and facilities; however, it was quickly realised that rapid prototyping would provide neither the volumes of face shields needed, or the speed required.

Ricardo 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, the engineering 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 now in progress and Ricardo is aiming to make its first donation of face shields to NHS staff and key frontline workers in the coming days.

In addition to supplying face shields to the NHS and others in the UK, Ricardo is looking to make similar initiatives at its facilities in Europe and the USA, 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.

Steve Dyke, managing director of Ricardo’s automotive and industrial operations said, “Our people have been anxious to use their engineering capabilities, skills and knowledge to find solutions to help protect frontline staff in the NHS and other key workers. The team has worked tirelessly to enable us to be able to go into production in a matter of days, and we are proud to be in a position to use our engineering capabilities for this essential task.”

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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