RIL diverts Alok Industries for making PPE; says will cut cost to one-third

Health workers on the premises of LNJP Hospital in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: PTI
Reliance Industries has converted Alok Industries, a textile company it acquired recently, to manufacture protective gear needed by professionals tackling the coronavirus outbreak and says it will save one-third in costs compared to imported Chinese equipment.

The company has redeployed Alok Industries' manufacturing facilities in Silvassa, Gujarat for exclusively manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard doctors, nurses, medical staff and other frontline workers engaged in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, sources said.

Capacity has been scaled up to produce more than 100,000 PPE kits per day and cost has been slashed to nearly Rs 650 per unit from the about Rs 2,000 apiece imported price, they said.

The facility can also be used for exporting PPE in future, they added.

Reliance integrated technology, raw material from its petchem plants and 10,000 tailors after re-engineering the plant. Production started in mid-April and has been quickly ramped up to now constitute close to a fifth of India's daily PPE production capacity.

Other PPE kit manufacturers include JCT Phagwara, Gokaldas Exports, and Aditya Birla.

India was importing most of its PPE requirement till manufacturing started within the country in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

The availability of high quality and low-cost PPE from Reliance is expected to significantly boost India's effectiveness in handling the Covid-19 emergency.

Sources said the Silvassa unit is manufacturing PPE coverall suits -- a single piece zip-up suits -- and these are covered with anti-microbial tape.

High-grade polypropylene is the raw material used to produce the equipment, lending it more opacity while keeping it lightweight.

A PPE suit consists of coveralls, gloves, shoe covers, three-ply or N95 face masks, headgear and face shield.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the protective equipment consists of garments placed to protect the health care workers or any other persons. These usually consist of standard items -- gloves, mask and gown.

For blood or airborne high infections, it will include face protection, goggles and mask or face shield, gloves, gown or coverall, head cover and rubber boots.

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