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SENAI teaches industry to make PPE against coronavirus


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After having their routine significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, 600 Brazilian manufacturers have been selected to receive instruction on how to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) against the novel coronavirus. The initiative is to be carried out as online training by Brazil’s industrial apprenticeship service SENAI.

Last week, SENAI announced the names of 350 companies to take part in the second stage of the project, which will teach technical specifications and norms to guarantee the effectiveness of such products as masks, hand sanitizer, and hospital aprons. They are expected to join the 250 that had been trained after the first call, made on June. Among the manufacturers selected are companies from 20 states—280 of which small- or medium-sized businesses.


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SENAI Director-General Rafael Lucchesi notes that firms in sectors with related production processes make up most of the group, like textile and apparel companies, which can gear up to produce masks, for instance, more easily.


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“As for hand sanitizer, which is among the key items, we have interesting situations, like that of a cachaça maker that really seized the opportunity. There was a serious supply issue, and they played a crucial role,” the director said, referring to cachaça producer Joboia, in Acre state, one of the participants inn the first phase.

The online training will be eight hours long, with consultants helping devise action plans and offering guidance on regulatory requirements and how to adapt existing facilities to the new productive process.


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Most of the selected companies—189 of the 350—are expected to make common masks, and 33 will offer surgical masks. Consultancy should also cover the production of acetate face shields for 21 companies, and hand sanitizer for seven.

Lucchesi believes the COVID-19 pandemic changes how the world tackles the need to offer items such as masks and ventilators locally. “The world tends not to be at the mercy of  critical item on the sanitary agenda, like a drug or a ventilator. There will be a bigger concern over domestic security on the sanitary agenda,” he pointed out.

Despite attempts to reduce the need for imports, the SENAI director argues that the importance of the debate on productive effectiveness remains unchanged. “It’s a sovereignty issue—a matter of generating employment and creating better jobs. No country has managed to boost development without having a stake in its industry.”

The production of PPE, he added, may offer solace to companies in hard-hit sectors, like apparel. “This production rework has helped a number of investors stay alive, therefore saving companies and jobs,” he said.

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