A national team of six Taiwanese textile manufacturers are modifying their production lines and ramping up output to help meet the rising demand for surgical masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The team is being led by Makalot Industrial, who had the advantage of research and development conducted 17 years ago when the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic hit Taiwan.
Taiwan mostly imported protective hospital gowns then and the government began encouraging domestic manufacture to start making PPE. So the company filed an application in 2003 for a license to manufacture protective gowns. The company's research team came up with a design, which it patented three months later.
The company is now on its way to produce 100,000 protective gowns by late April and is aiming to manufacture another 220,000 at its factory in Vietnam. It also plans to set up a production line in Chiayi in southern Taiwan, which will manufacture 10,000 gowns per month initially and gradually raise its monthly output to 50,000, he said.
The team of five manufacturers has been contracted by the government to deliver 1.1 million isolation and protective hospital gowns by April. Meanwhile, Kang Na Hsiung Enterprise, a manufacturer of hygiene products and synthetic textiles, has revived its production lines for melt-blown non-wovens—the main raw material used to make surgical masks—which had been mothballed for at least five years. The company has ramped up its daily production of melt-blown non-wovens to 2.4 tonne, which can make more than 3 million face masks.