The COVID-19 outbreak has led to high demand for face masks and personal protection equipment. Due to this, suppliers of materials and components for making face masks and PPEs are witnessing high growth.
For instance, one component that is critical to face mask is the ear loop. An ear loop made with cheap rubber materials will not only hurt the ear but can cause allergy to the user. Now, most face masks, including N95 respirators, are using the elastic flat rubber tapes or cords, that provides comfort to the user.
There are only a handful of manufacturers in the world who make both the latex (natural rubber)and latex-free (synthetic polyisoprene) elastic tapes at scale.
One of them is Pune-based Garware Bestretch.
"Starting from the month of March, we have seen a 40 percent surge in our supplies to the medical and hygiene industry, which will continue till June 2020 and beyond as well," said Anand Kulkarni, Vice President of Global Sales, Garware Bestretch.
Garwal has received business deals worth Rs 10 crore since the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Considering the current situation of high demand, the company anticipates to cross the Rs 100-crore mark by the end of this year in face masks and PPE segment for rubber component supply," Kulkarni said.
Garware has supplied elastic tapes in India and acorss 75 countries, including US and Europe. Garware counts world's largest N-95 mask manufacturer 3M among its customers.
Garware also manufactures and distributes elastic bands for personal protection equipment along with respirator valves for N95 face masks.
In 2018, Garware expanded its manufacturing footprint to US by acquiring Fulflex.
Its factories in Pune and Vermont have been ramping up production meet supply commitments.
Supply chain disruption
However, Garware too was affected by lockdown restrictions. Most of its raw materials come from overseas and it said it had to deal with delays at the ports.
"For certain raw materials, we maintain inventory for several months. However, for other materials, we rely on our supply chain to deliver
within established lead times. At this point, for some raw materials, we are experiencing a 1-2 week delays," said Kulkarni.
Garware sources its key raw materials from South East Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia and USA.
Garware also supplies elastic material for home textile and other customer specific applications.
"Although the medical division business is doing well, our other verticals have taken a hit," Kulkarni said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here