Yesterday (12 November 2018) eight students from Hucknall Sixth Form Centre had the opportunity to put their business studies learning into context as they visited JCB’s world headquarters in Uttoxeter. The purpose of the trip was to explore JCB’s operations and find out how the business has grown from humble beginnings to become the innovative internationally known brand that exists today.

The day started with a presentation about the history of JCB, including how founder Joseph Cyril Bamford was fired from his family business and started his innovative company following this setback. His first products were trailers from corrugated steel made from recycled unused steel structures. This demonstrated his entrepreneurial nous by making engineered products in post-war Britain that had suffered from a significant steel shortage.

The HSFC group got to explore the various products that have helped to shape JCB’s history, including the backhoe, diesel engines, tractors and various military vehicles. This extraordinary exhibition demonstrated the importance of innovation to a business such as JCB and reasons why protection of intellectual property, such as patents, is essential for large businesses.

A real eye-opener was the opportunity for students to see the factory floor and that despite the business being very capital intensive, there is still a lot of hand assembly on site. Our tour guide explained that it takes a machine 45 minutes to weld a digger, but this would take a person three hours, but people are vital to the JCB business. He also explained their lean production principles including just-in-time stock management, only producing their products to order, and working at or near full capacity.

Students also had the opportunity to look at other areas of the business including discussing JCB’s approach to human resources and their forward-thinking approach to apprentices. They have over 100 apprentices working throughout many areas of the company and this gave our students an insight into how apprenticeships can support them into a wide variety of career paths.

Feedback from our students was that this was an insightful and interesting visit – we thank JCB for their hospitality and for a highly informative day that will support students’ learning. Thank you also to Mr Lee and Ms Foster for accompanying our students on the day.