Production of masks, coveralls see increase

Sector’s investments rise with demand

Published - April 02, 2020 10:40 pm IST - COIMBATORE

N95 and similar industrial masks have seen production rising from 15 lakh a month to about 25 lakh now.

N95 and similar industrial masks have seen production rising from 15 lakh a month to about 25 lakh now.

With the spread of COVID-19 in the country, demand for protective gear such as masks and coveralls has shot up. These products, now made by a handful of manufacturers, are attracting investments because of increasing demand.

According to government sources, the current production of N95 masks in the country is about 75,000 to one lakh pieces a day and coverall suits 5,000.

The production of N95 and other types of similar versions of industrial masks was 10-15 lakh a month and it is now about 25 lakh a month (average). There are limitations in increasing production of these masks as the machinery needs to be imported.

There are 16 main producers of coveralls at present. Some major suppliers are expected to get into production shortly for coveralls and its numbers will increase. Against an annual consumption of 50,000 body coveralls a month before the outbreak, now, the demand is projected at almost one lakh a day. It is estimated that production will scale up to 50,000 a day in May.

Imports have started and more are in the pipeline and a clear position will be available by next week.

The Ministry of Textiles is taking steps to bring in new manufacturers and is facilitating logistics for supply of the gear. It is also co-ordinating with the State government authorities so that these industries have permission to operate and are able to transport goods, according to sources. These products are tested by South India Textile Research Association for standards.

S.K. Sundararaman, MD, Shiva Texyarn and chairman, Indian Technical Textile Association, said N95 masks, goggles, coveralls and gloves are the protective gear that the health workers mostly use. An approximate estimate of the requirement of coveralls is 20 lakh pieces. Some manufacturers now produce reusable coverall suits.

“The Class III coveralls recommended was not generally made in India. Now, even for those who are getting into it, there is shortage in availability of fabric and seam sealing facility. We (Shiva Texyarn) started making coveralls a week ago and produce 2,000 pieces a day. In the case of masks too, there were just five N 95 suppliers. The existing textile manufacturers are trying to get into these segments now. But, there are challenges such as availability of fabric,” he said.

State Governments are also coming out with alternative systems to ensure that health workers are protected.

The association is interacting constantly with the Ministry and giving data on the realistic production. More investments will certainly come in, he added.

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