Seshadri Ramkumar

Governments paying attention to need for locally made PPE

Posted January 20, 2021


By Seshadri Ramkumar


LUBBOCK, Texas – A manufacturing boost will play a vital role in the building of global economy.


Last week, U.S. President-elect (at the time) Joseph R. Biden Jr., unveiled an economic recovery plan to counter the pandemic and grow the economy. The stimulus plan of $1.9 trillion focuses on priority items such as vaccines, COVID-19 testing and economic plans such as direct payments and unemployment support, to name a few.


The rescue plan is a prelude to a broader growth agenda, where emphasis is placed on manufacturing among other items such as infrastructure investment, etc. In the speech, Biden said, “We will buy American products and support millions of American manufacturing jobs.” The plan also calls for investments in research and development, enabling innovation and creating new opportunities.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks have come to prominence as lifesavers due to the nature of the transmission of the coronavirus. World governments will pay attention to boosting their respective advanced manufacturing sectors such as technical textiles, sustainable production, logistics and distribution, as is evident from Biden’s speech.


The need to have manufacturing resources and supplies such as PPE within their borders will strengthen manufacturing and allied sectors of nations. Initiatives such as Made in America and India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India) will shine new light on manufacturing. Other fields that have direct and indirect influence on manufacturing such as technical education and R&D will also play vital roles towards recovery and growth.


India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in last month’s Mann Ki Batt (Speech from Heart) talk to the nation emphasized the importance of curiosity for personal growth and highlighted the need for innovation and start-ups to grow the economy. Again, a clear indication that sectors such as manufacturing and research are attracting a high-level of attention.


There needs to be a focused attention on developing manufacturing and allied fields, which needs cooperative efforts among stakeholders such as the industry, government and academia. In this regard, it is good to highlight the efforts that India has been doing for over two decades in promoting the technical textiles sectors. I was personally involved in the effort by creating awareness on the nonwovens field, which has enabled India to be self-reliant in PPE as a countermeasure during the COVID-19 times.


In a recent interview with National Public Radio, Kamala Harris, who was U.S. Vice President-elect at the time, highlighted the need to boost the supply of PPE and the availability for the Defense Production Act to gear up resources if necessary. PPE manufacturing, which is a technical textiles sector, is garnering attention at the highest levels of governments.


Developed economies will surely take steps in growing high-end manufacturing – a positive revival indeed!


Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D., CText., FTI (U.K.), FTA (honorary), is a professor at the Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech.

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