How Covid-19 opened Ramco’s eyes

Ramco Group Chief Operations Officer Hasit Patel in a showroom the company has opened for the display of products that help fight Covid-19. PHOTO | ELVIS ONDIEKI

Photo credit: NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Personal protective equipment is now being made by Ramco companies that had been dealing in polythene and textiles.
  • Personal protective equipment is now being made by Ramco companies that had been dealing in polythene and textiles.

In March, Kenya called on local companies to find ways of making items that can help the country deal with the Covid-19 menance.

Top executives at manufacturing conglomerate Ramco Group were listening. And thinking.

They then rolled out a strategy that translated into the many Ramco products in the market today that seek to combat the spread of coronavirus — most of which the company had never made before the virus struck.

They include surgical masks, foot-operated hand washing stations, personal protective equipment, labels for distancing in lifts and supermarkets, and transparent dividers in cars.

Ramco’s chief operations officer Hasit Patel told the Nation that after finding the best ways of protecting its employees, the group’s heads started thinking on the items they could manufacture for local use. Ramco Group comprises over 41 companies across East Africa in various fields that range from plastics manufacture, advertising, steel fabrication, textiles and packaging among others.

Closed borders

“Those organisations basically started repurposing themselves,” Mr Patel told Nation at a showroom dedicated to Covid-19 solutions at a Ramco office along Muthithi Road in Nairobi.

“With the pandemic, a lot of countries closed their borders. So, to get some of these materials was going to be difficult. Unless we started making them here locally. We were not going to meet the demand that is required and that would have been a problem for our country, our city,” he added.

With that in mind, Wild Elegance Africa, a Ramco Group subsidiary that deals in textiles, embarked on making masks. “We were already into manufacturing textiles, like T-shirts and others,” he said.

“Then we got in additional machinery to make the surgical masks,” he added, pointing at the one he was wearing.

Personal protective equipment is now being made by Ramco companies that had been dealing in polythene and textiles.

Kentainers, another Ramco company, designed the stations that allow a user to use his or her foot to extract soap and to release water from a plastic tank to facilitate hand washing. 

Self-adhesive notices

“They have created this tank, the stand, and a basin, and this whole thing costs Sh9,000. And it can carry water for a lot of people, and it is foot-operated,” Mr Patel said as he took us around the showroom.

The information technology arm of Ramco, ICT Africa Consulting Services, also came up with a system that companies can employ for signing in of employees without requiring each of them to place a finger on a scanner.

The new system can work with an employee’s phone, Mr Patel explained, without the need for each of them to touch a single point.

The printing companies under Ramco came up with the self-adhesive notices now available in most lifts and places where queues are expected.

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