Factories say to ramp up production of materials for PPE manufacturing to face Covid-19

People work on a collaborative project between FSSR UiTM Perak, FSSR Shah Alam, UiTM Sg Buluh, Red Crescent Perak to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) at UiTM Seri Iskandar Art and Fashion workshop April 9, 2020. MPMA and FMFTA are cooperating to overcome the shortage of non-woven material for PPE. — Picture by Farhan Najib
People work on a collaborative project between FSSR UiTM Perak, FSSR Shah Alam, UiTM Sg Buluh, Red Crescent Perak to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) at UiTM Seri Iskandar Art and Fashion workshop April 9, 2020. MPMA and FMFTA are cooperating to overcome the shortage of non-woven material for PPE. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — The Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) and the Federation of Malaysian Fashion, Textile and Apparel (FMFTA) are cooperating to overcome the shortage of non-woven material for personal protection equipment (PPE), as well as in the production process to sew jumpsuits, isolation gowns, head covers, and boot covers.

MPMA president Datuk Lim Kok Boon said the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in increased difficulty in sourcing both coated and uncoated non-woven material.

“This is exacerbated by disruptions in the supply chain caused by the infrequency of flights and ships plying between Malaysia and other countries,” he said in a statement.

Adding that the country can no longer depend on supply from other nations, Lim said MPMA’s members are now working to repurpose their machines and reallocate resources to produce non-woven material, even if it means foregoing normal business to ensure material availability.

“We want to ensure Malaysia has enough local capacity to be self-sufficient and not have to depend on external sources which may be unreliable currently.

“Samples have been made and sent for approval to the Health Ministry, which has specific functional and safety requirements.

“Certain PPEs must have liquid repellent properties to prevent penetration of body fluids, blood and other biological material that may harm the frontliners,” he said, adding that non-woven materials for such types of PPEs must be coated or laminated with a plastic film.

FMFTA president Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh said the federation, together with the Malaysian Textile Manufacturers Association and Malaysian Knitting Manufacturers Association under its aegis, has identified more than 10 factories as having the sizeable capacity to mass produce PPEs from the materials provided by MPMA members.

“More factories can be brought onboard should there be a need to further increase capacity. All member companies will ensure that the production of the PPEs conforms with the ministry’s requirements.

“Once the ministry provides its specifications and approvals, FMFTA members will be able to ramp up their production,” he said.

Tan also said the FMFTA will facilitate the supply of approved material to NGOs and other business organisations which are keen to make and contribute PPEs, advising such bodies to reach out to FMFTA secretary-general Regina Leong via her email at [email protected]

Both the MPMA and FMFTA’s members have since committed to contributing around RM1 million worth of other PPE types to the ministry and to hospitals as well. These include face shields, jumpsuits, disposable head covers, clinical waste bags, plastic sheets and films, and plastic aprons.

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