Indian Apparel Manufacturers To Start Producing PPE Kits Amid Expanding Global Market For Medical Textiles

Indian Apparel Manufacturers To Start Producing PPE Kits Amid Expanding Global Market For Medical TextilesHealthcare workers wearing PPE. (Wikimedia Commons) 

Badly hit by Covid-19 pandemic, Indian apparel exporters are gearing up to start producing personal protective equipment (PPE) to help fight the infection and also make India hub for sourcing PPE kits over the next few years.

“We find that there will be a domestic demand of Rs 10,000 crore for the next one year and internationally there will be a $60 billion business till 2025 whereas India has done only $260 million so far last year, a study says,” AEPC Chairman Dr A Sakthivel said addressing fellow exporters in the webinar.

About 2,000 participants mainly apparel exporters from across the country logged on to ‘Manufacturing of PPE Products under Medical Textiles’ webinar organised by Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) along with South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) and Indian Technical Textiles Association (ITTA) on Saturday.

Though many of PPE products needed for frontline health workers are banned for exports currently, he said that once the local manufacturers satisfy the Indian demand, they should be allowed to export in the foreign markets and for this AEPC has already submitted a request with the government.

“I believe all the apparel manufacturers can enter into the coverall garments provided they have a seam sealing machine. That’s the one machine we need for our factories. We will have to import this machine if we want to go for PPE kits,” he said.

Sakthivel said that the AEPC will have a separate cell for PPE kits as its immediate task is to provide sufficient PPE kits domestically to prevent further import of these kits.

KS Sundararaman, Chairman, ITTA, said, “There is a very strong anti-China sourcing sentiment going on right now and this is an opportunity for us to capture. We have a vibrant Indian market and we have a great global market. Please reach out to doctors who are near you and understand these medical professionals who will wear these PPEs. Connect with them and understand the practical aspects of breathability, wearability issues that they are having and create garments for that. If you are able to satisfy that customer then the world is at our feet.”

Prakash Vasudevan, Director, SITRA, said, “We have two classifications – single use and reusable. Both are widely acceptable in today’s scenario because disposal or single use is becoming very complicated. The only way to dispose off all this medical waste is incineration and considering our situation safe disposal is a big problem. So, reusables are also slowly coming in.”

Prasenjeet Shambharkar, Solutions Consultant, Lectra India, said, “WHO has predicted that globally 89 million masks, 30 million gowns, 1.6 million goggles, 76 million gloves and 2.9 million litres of hand sanitiser is required per month during the pandemic. There are different types of PPE kits which are required, basically one is for the doctors and one is for the investigation team.”

The expert panel discussed at length the emerging market for PPE kits and the way to get into its production by discussing the products, technical specifications, requirement of inputs like fabric and seam seal tapes and machines, apart from their demand.

The webinar drew a huge response both in terms of number of participants and the rush to get their queries answered.

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