Bangladesh's first personal protective equipment (PPE) production plant, also the biggest in South Asia, set up by Beximco Group in Savar at a cost of $100 million will soon roll out its operation.
PPE Industrial Park built on a land of 25 acres will convert granules into meltblown and laminated fabrics of different weights, which will then be used in manufacturing surgical gowns and masks, N95 masks, disposable scrubs, head and shoe covers and some other woven and knitted health safety products.
Beximco Health, a new venture of the Group, also set up a 12,000sq feet advanced PPE lab, with Intertek, a 130-year-old leader in the field of PPE testing. Physical testing, chemical and microbiological testing will be conducted in this lab to ensure that the PPE manufactured conforms to the standards of the US, the EU and the UK.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller on Wednesday inaugurated the plant that will soon start production to cater to both domestic and international markets.
At the event, Miller said Beximco had made an agreement to supply PPE to the US healthcare service providers, which was a demonstration of the capability of Bangladeshi enterprises and of labor forces of the healthcare industry to produce quality products.
However, it is not the first time for Beximco to take the challenge. Last year, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, it made garments to produce protective equipment within a matter of weeks, learning the specialised fabrication techniques and setting up production lines, and produced 6.5 million gowns for distribution in the United States through the US Federal Emergency Management Administration, the ambassador said.
Miller said the Beximco plant would add to the robust and growing bilateral trade between Bangladesh and the United States.
Citing recent estimates, he said Bangladesh now exported goods worth $6.7 billion to America annually, which was nearly twice as much as it did a decade ago. And the value of American products exported to Bangladesh has grown four-fold in the same period.
"Our two nations share a common perspective on the value of trade and free enterprise in a nation's progress. Beximco represents these values," Miller said.
Beximco Vice-chairman Salman F Rahman said the plant had been built up in six months with concepts of flexibility that would allow capacity expansion.
"In every crisis Beximco has come forward. Earlier in the Covid time, we came up with several products, including remdesivir." There is also a big lot of Covid vaccine in hand because of Beximco Bangladesh, said Salman F Rahman, also investment affairs advisor to the prime minister.
Syed Naved Husain, chief executive officer of Beximco, said, "Beximco has steadily contributed to Bangladesh's meteoric rise as a manufacturing hub in South Asia and the new facility helps us realise our vision of seeing the country as the largest manufacturer and exporter of PPE products."