KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Since ramping up its production efforts, Malaysian manufacturers are now able to produce up to five million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) and are able to further increase their output.
Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) president Datuk Lim Kok Boon said the national manufacturing sector takes pride in its ability to support the nation in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The sector has demonstrated that we have the agility to expand our capacity further and adapt in a critical stage,” he said in a statement.
During the pandemic’s infection peak last month, the number of key PPEs required was three million pieces, including isolation gowns, boot covers, jumpsuits, head covers, face shields and aprons.
Most of these key PPEs are made of non-woven material made from plastics and require secondary processes such as cutting, sewing and lamination or coating, which is a crucial protective step in ensuring the non-woven materials are liquid repellant for certain applications.
Lim said manufacturers aim to ensure that hospitals in Malaysia will always have access to almost all of the PPEs that they require, since they will be locally sourced.
“This pandemic has exposed us to how fragile relying on outsourced materials can be. From supply-chain disruptions, material shortage, spike in cost of products, to quality-control standards, there is too much at risk.
“Local capacity will ensure a continuous supply, cost-effective and high-quality PPEs to protect our frontliners,” he said.
MPMA is working in tandem with the Federation of Malaysian Fashion and Textile Association (FMFTA) in producing the PPEs, as all non-woven materials both coated and uncoated will then have to be cut up and sewed.
MPMA’s member companies have since gone through an extensive process to build production capacity, including by repurposing machines, modifying tools and equipment. as well as diverting production capacities from their normal businesses.
FMFTA president Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh said his association has identified 30 member companies to carry out the cutting and sewing tasks for this initiative.
“Sewing is largely labour intensive, and our members will continue to deliver as long as the country is in need of PPE supplies. Both FMFTA and MPMA are committed to making sure there will be no interruption in production or supply.
“Since the industries are now able to meet the country’s needs in supplying PPEs, the industries are working together to explore the export market. We are confident that we should be able to export as we have already received enquiries in this regard,” said Tan.