They can replace China products, says Loyal Textiles’ chief technology officer

In the last two months, the textile and clothing industry has proven its capabilities in medical textiles with domestic production of personal protection equipment and masks taking off in a big way. The industry is all set to venture into the global market,as a significant player in this segment and wants to be seen as a supplier of high quality products, says Devadas Dhamodharaswamy, chief technology officer of Loyal Textile Mills, which has come out with branded masks and PPEs, Excerpts:

What is behind the sudden surge in local production of masks and coveralls?

In February this year, recognising the threat of COVID-19 and the possibility of a severe spread, the Ministry of Textiles called upon textile units industries to step in and manufacture PPE kits and masks in India.

It estimated that the country may need millions of units to fight the virus. This was the first initiative which helped the Indian industry realise the domestic need and the manufacturers saw an opportunity. When the lockdown was announced, commercial and industrial activities came to a stand-still and the regular local orders dried up for textile units. So, they decided to get into masks and PPEs. The Centre set the ball rolling by floating a tender for 20 million PPE sets, through the aggregator HLL Lifecare Limited. The garment units were qualified to take part in the tender if they met just one parameter - Synthetic Blood Penetration Resistance (SBPR) test - for the coveralls. The rates offered were also attractive.

India has adopted BIS Standards for both masks and PPEs. However, except for the bacterial filtration efficiency for masks and SBPR for the PPE fabrics and seam sealing, which have been tested during the past two months, all other parameters for masks and PPEs under the BIS Standards are not being tested, implemented or regulated now. That is mainly because of the immediate need for these products in huge quantities. But some of the manufacturers, such as Loyal Textile Mills, are serious about meeting the global standards for all parameters.

Can they sustain output?

Most of the small-scale textile units that started producing PPEs and masks just to survive a tough situation are likely to go back to production of regular products when the lockdown is lifted. Now, masks and PPEs are included under Medical Devices Rules and in the coming days, all the manufacturers will be necessitated to go through stringent standards checks. This may reduce the number of manufacturers in this segment. Only those with expertise and commitment to technical garments will sustain.

What is the market potential for masks and PPEs?

There is a huge demand in domestic and export markets. World over, there is awareness on the need for these products to stay safe from the spread of COVID-19. Several countries do not want to buy Chinese products as they fear poor quality. The government has brought in Medical Devices Rules to ensure that Indian manufacturers achieve global standards and maintain consistency in quality. Based on WHO modelling, an estimated 89 million medical masks are needed every month globally. The WHO has estimated that manufacturers of masks and PPEs have to ramp up capacities 40% to 50%, which India has achieved already. The global demand for non-medical masks is expected to cross almost three billion a month, excluding China. China can make 14.8 million masks a day, and half of that will be used for local needs. Recognising this potential, the Centre opened up exports of non-medical masks.

Over 12 million PPE kits were made in India in the last two to three months and another 15 million are in the pipeline. But, WHO has been able to deliver less than a million of PPE kits to 47 affected countries so far and the supplies are rapidly depleting. It is estimated that to treat one COVID-19 patient, an average of 80 PPE kits are needed.

Globally, 5.5 million patients in 213 countries are to be treated and the numbers are growing every day. So, the demand is for over five billion sets. China can meet about 60% of the demand. Thus, the market is huge for Indian manufacturers to tap.

Will the Indian products meet international standards? If yes, what percentage?

Currently, it is estimated that only about 15 % of the Indian products will be able to meet the international standards. The PPE sets made by Loyal Textile Mills have been bench-marked against top MNC products and top Indian products by Tata Motors and have been rated among the top 10-15 % of the Global Brands.

Is the industry talking to the government on ways to meet global standards?

Yes. The ICMED 9000 and ISO 13485 Standards ensure that the products meet Indian and global demands. The government has given 18 months time to manufacturers to apply for these standards. voluntarily. The textile and garment industry associations are talking to the Ministry of Textiles and the Centre about enhancing the testing parameters and fabric specifications so that Indian products meet the global standards. The Government is also talking to the industry to handhold the manufacturers and help them meet international standards to export in the future. It should regulate manufacturing of PPEs in India so that only high quality products are allowed to be marketed. The government Ishould also allow export of PPEs with immediate effect. Indian PPE products are poised to take the world stage and replace Chinese products as global importers are knocking on India’s doors.

Published On : 28-05-2020

Source : The Hindu

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