– By Hemant Sapra

PPE or personal protective kit refers to equipment that is designed to protect the body from injury or infection. PPE has wide applications from industries to healthcare. These include eyewear, helmets, fall protection products, face masks, etc. These work as a shield in hazards such as physical harm, unfavorable temperatures, chemicals, airborne particles, biohazards etc. While the PPE industry at a global level has been in play, the COVID-19 crisis brought it to a center stage. Due to a worsening healthcare crisis across the globe and a shortage of PPE kits, the PPE manufacturing market saw unprecedented growth. India became the second largest country to export PPEs to the world, punching a production of around 4 lakh PPEs per day. With increased demand from both the domestic and overseas markets, the industry grew to cross a Rs 7000 crore mark and is anticipated to grow steadily. 

Looking into the segments, the respiratory protection segment in PPE is clocking most of the growth. Increased awareness post Covid-19 of the advantages of face masks, preventive measures in case of further variations of the virus and protection from any further pandemic situations in the future continue to fuel the growth of this sector. Face masks have changed from just a piece of industrial equipment to everyday requirements within routine life as well. While the pandemic bled out many industries, it boosted the Personal Protective Equipment Industry. Increased medical requirements, hygiene awareness, preventive measures for future transmission of pathogens etc. continue to drive the acceleration of this sector. 

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The use of PPE goes beyond the healthcare sector. Accelerated industrialization globally post-pandemic both in developing and developed nations continue to contribute to the demand for PPE globally. Customization for safety, comfort, industrial application, hazard level, brand language et al are instrumental in the growing demand. The current stride in sustainability across industries has also called for the incorporation of eco-friendly materials in the PPE market, giving a further impetus for growth. 

The PPE market in India has emerged as a lucrative sector owing to the cost-effective production, ease of availability of raw materials and border restrictions in other trade countries. This has opened favorable avenues for the export of protective equipment for workers. Industries like automotive, chemicals, oil & gas, etc. in India and overseas are also majority stakeholders in the demand for PPE.

Besides these factors, the regulatory frameworks in India are evolving for the better of the PPE industry. Mandates for not just manufacturing but also to equip their employees with the necessary PPE in certain environments lead to increased demand and supply. The government has actively participated in the acceleration of the industry while making sure that it remains regulated. The new regulations have helped the industry standardize its practices and produce goods of the international standard. 

Government has been awarding new infrastructure development projects leading to increase of construction and development there by having a positive impact on demand for safety products. Stringent policies and the introduction of new licenses like the CDSCO license for face masks have had a positive impact on product demand from the end-use industries both in the country and overseas. In terms of the end-use industry, PPE has a plethora of applications due to its industry-agnostic nature and is scheduled to witness growth in the future as well making it one of the leading sectors in India.

(Hemant Sapra is the President of Global Sales & Marketing at KARAM Group)


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