It has been challenging to work in India because the government’s guidelines on coveralls were not clear and even now a lot remains to be clarified
Hula Global, a medical coverall supplier has had some tough times during this pandemic due to the strict regulations on exports of medical supplies such as PPE. Karan Bose, Managing Director, Hula Global discusses with Prabhat Prakash the challenges faced during the pandemic, and how they intend to diversify their portfolio of PPE once there is further clarity by governing bodies
Share the names of the organisations/countries where you supply your PPE. Are these approved by a governing body? What is the process for quality check of your products?
Before the export ban, we were shipping to various international healthcare organisations in China, Europe, Brazil and Thailand. Our coveralls follow the European EN standards for Type 3/4. After the ban on export for medical coveralls, we started working with organisations in India but it has been very challenging to work with them because the government’s guidelines on coveralls were not clear for a very long time and even now a lot remains to be clarified. However, in early days, we have successfully worked with various independent government contractors for Indian Air Force, Indian Army and Doctors Without Borders.
For quality check of our products, we collect TDS information (Technical Data Sheet) before finalising the raw material and then during the production cycle, there are various production control processes which are implemented. As an organisation, we have implemented ISO 9001 QMS (Quality Management Systems) and we also have CE certificate (which is a mandatory requirement for exports to EU countries).
Where are your manufacturing units based and how are you sourcing the raw materials required?
Our factory is based out of Noida and we are currently procuring most of our raw materials from within Delhi-NCR. However, we are also working with suppliers from Maharashtra and a few south-Indian states for some specific products.
Are the employees working at the manufacturing plants locals? How is your organisation taking care of them? What all safety protocols have you maintained?
Most of our staff are locals hailing from Noida. We also got people from our management team relocated to Noida during lockdown 4.0, and are providing pick and drop facilities to all of them. Further, we are following all the safety standards mandated in the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF&W). Regular thermal checks are being conducted and ample sanitisers are being manufactured and provided to every staff member by our company.
Are your suppliers providing raw materials as per the demand, or is there a shortage? If yes, how are you dealing with this?
Yes, initially there were shortages and the prices of the raw materials were skyrocketing, but now they are back to their normal rates and because of overproduction, we are looking at deflationary pricing very soon.
Have you collaborated with the central or any of the state governments as they have been trying to address the shortage of PPE? If yes, how are you managing your revenues amidst this?
In its early days (around March), Hula Global was in talks with representatives of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Government, several central government agencies and various contractors of the Indian Army, Navy and Airforce. Most of these agencies work on a very long payment cycle. For instance, HLL has a standard 90-day payment cycles.
What are the plans to diversify the current portfolio of the organisation?
Yes, we will definitely supply to the mass market whenever there is more clarity on the government’s guidelines on coveralls. In fact, we had recommended different types of coveralls based on the end-consumer usage. For example, a doctor working in COVID-19 ward faces a very different risk compared to an Uber driver who might face incidental exposure. So, each type of coverall is different based on the usage and we are awaiting those guidelines to be clarified.
We have already diversified our portfolio by manufacturing various types of face masks – FFP1, FFP2s (N95s), surgical gowns, isolation gowns, face shields/visors.