Making beds made of paper for Covid-19 quarantine hubs

Mumbai-headquartered corrugated box manufacturer Khetan Corru Case is in the race to address the shortage of beds for Covid-19 patients and high-risk contacts.

08 Jun 2020 | By Aultrin Vijay

The beds can take a load of up to 250 kgs and comes with a special water-resistant coating

Khetan Corru Case is a three-decade-old family-run organisation based out of Mumbai and Hyderabad, started by Ashok Khetan in the late 1980s. Four years ago, Ayush Khetan succeeded his father.

With a new 5-ply automatic plant equipped with the latest technology to meet global standards in the corrugated board, Khetan is keen to carry forward his father's legacy. Khetan has completed his Masters in marketing and strategy from Warwick University, UK, and graduated in business administration from NMIMS University in Mumbai.

The company has a vast experience of working with big companies such as Pepsico, ITC, Flipkart and Carlsberg and many other multinational FMCG companies.

However, with the surge in Covid-19 cases in India, many from the corrugation industry have started producing beds, which are sturdy, affordable, and require less time to produce as compared to the conventional wooden and metal beds.

For its part, Khetan Corru Case has developed Corrubeds, which, according to the company, is both strong and water-resistant. "While in the past, we had developed some non-packaging related products using the technology at our disposal, the development of Corrubeds has been the most exciting for us," says Khetan.

According to Khetan, the beds can take a load of up to 250 kgs and come with special chemical coating, which enables its water-resistant characteristic. The Corrubeds comes in a portable knock-down-flat format, which takes less than four minutes to assemble. Since the beds are made from paper, it can be re-pulped and recycled, making it an eco-friendly solution.

Khetan claims that the production of the beds can be scaled to over 2,000 beds per day, depending on the quantity of the orders.

Designing and testing phase
According to Khetan, the idea behind developing the Corrubeds popped up after witnessing the government grappling with severe shortage of beds in hospitals and quarantine centres, since the beginning of the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March 2020.

"During the lockdown, several government and private institutions and hospitals were struggling to cope up with the dwindling resources and growing quarantines centres and migrant labour camps. Hence, to avoid the overflow of people and shortage of beds at hospitals, we thought of introducing a disposable bed, which was scalable and affordable," says Khetan.

The bed is made of high strength corrugated board made from high strength kraft paper. Before introducing it to the market, Khetan's team and staff members used the bed to assess its strength. The water-resistance capability was validated at the Packaging Clinic and Research Institute (PCRI) lab in Hyderabad. With the help and suggestions of the lab's founder BK Karana, Khetan finalised the design for the Corrubeds.

Helping hands 

Khetan Corru Case has donated some Corrubeds to the Mumbai Smiles Foundation in Mumbai. Currently, its pre-schools have been converted into isolation centres in the wake of Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the NGO, the saddest part was to witness the government schools being converted into quarantine centres. Currently, Mumbai Smiles Foundation preschools are closed but the food distribution is regularly happening across its centres.

The NGO has two pre-schools in Chedda Nagar, which is one of the most vulnerable areas. It has been witnessing families in the community who have Covid-19 patients, but cannot isolate themselves for having tiny houses. "There are some newly born babies and their mothers who are at risk," it said.

The NGO said, "We are grateful for kind hearted people in the city who recently donated us portable and reusable beds made by corrugated boxes. We plan to put them to create emergency isolation centres if needed in the communities where we run our projects. We have received 14 beds made of corrugated boxes and have capacity to carry 250 kg are set in our Chedda Nagar pre-school."

Production challenges
"Production during the lockdown is definitely a challenge for many," says Khetan. However, as the corrugated packaging companies and its entire supply chain were exempted from the lockdown, it was business as usual for the company, albeit some minor inter-state-level transportation issues.

"Sourcing was not a challenge for us, as we have a very strong relation with our vendors. And, in terms of material availability, we were supported by them like we did our customers," adds Khetan.

However, Khetan believes that the labour shortage is still posing a big challenge across all sectors, owing to the mass migrant exodus induced by the months-long Covid-19 lockdown. He says his company has taken necessary measures to take care of the employees and keep them safe.

Furthermore, corrugated packaging being listed under the essential commodity category helped the company keep the production of beds running during the lockdown. "The production capacity for beds is currently at 1,000 units each day. It can be scaled up to over 2,000 per day," he adds.

Delivery and transportation
"Since we have our own logistics, the hurdle of delivery or transportation was not very big," says Khetan. However, he admits that the availability of trucks or trips per truck came down during the lockdown. "But, movement of goods within Telangana and to other states such as Maharashtra was not very difficult, as all our vehicles had an essential commodity pass and the same was well coordinated by the central government as well after the lockdown 1.0 ended."

Growing enquiries, rising demand
Khetan says his company has received a lot of inquiries and few deals are in the pipeline.

"We sold some beds to a few industries for their temporary in-house labour accommodation. Many of the beds were sold to quarantine facilities in and around Mumbai," he adds.

Apart from selling the beds, the company has also donated a few of the Corrubeds to Terna Hospital in Navi Mumbai and a Mumbai-based NGO, Mumbai Smiles Foundation, for converting their pre-schools into quarantine centres or shelter homes for the temporary accommodation of homeless people and migrant workforce.

Technical part of the corrugated bed
According to Khetan, the Corrubeds are an ideal option for being used for temporary purpose in quarantine centres, isolation wards or as emergency beds at hospitals, especially in remote areas.

"These beds are water-resistant and can take a load of up to 250kg and it is around 40% cheaper than the conventional metal beds. More importantly, it is eco-friendly and easy to dispose of," Khetan maintains.

He insists that the idea behind keeping the price of Corrubeds low was to serve the society during the pandemic and "not earn or book huge profits".
"Apart from the urgent requirement during the pandemic, we believe it is a frugal product to cater to the requirement of beds at the hospitals in rural areas or remote places across the globe. We can disrupt the healthcare market with this eco-friendly and frugal solution of disposable bed," Khetan concludes.

Covid-19 SOP followed by Khetan Corru Case

Measures at entrance for personnel movement

  • Passing through disinfectant chamber at main entrance gate
  • Sanitisation of hands using alcohol-based sanitiser
  • Temperature checks
  • Social distancing while gate entry 

Ayush Khetan (centre) with his team

Measures at entrance for vehicle and material movement

  • Sanitisation of vehicle using sodium hypochlorite disinfectant before entering factory premises
  • Sanitisation of driver/cleaner of the vehicle
  • Dedicated forklift to unload material from truck to avoid contact from storage area
  • Sanitisation of forklift in contact with material inside trucks

Measures on shop floor

  • Sanitisation/cleaning of machines/shop floor/material handling equipment with sodium hypochlorite-based disinfectant before start of shift.
  • Regular training of shop floor workers/operators by respective supervisors about the new SOP in wake of Covid-19
  • Regular weekly refresher training of supervisors by plant manager or production in-charge.
  • Posters displaying importance of social distancing and ways to prevent Covid-19
  • Disinfecting hands with sanitiser every time a person enters or leaves the shop floor
  • Using of masks and hair nets on shop floor and factory premise