Indian firm exports digital thermometers to SARS-battling Singapore

Friday, 25 April 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: After exporting blood warmers to allied troops in Iraq, Bangalore-based Opto Circuits has sent 50,000 digital thermometers to Singapore, which is battling the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

"Another 50,000 thermometers will be sent to Singapore in the next three days," Vinod Ramnani, CMD, told IANS Thursday.

The Singapore government has made it mandatory for every citizen to check his or her temperature before leaving home. "And they have told us to keep shipping whatever we have," Ramnani added.

According to Ramnani, digital thermometers have come in for tremendous demand because they are "environment- friendly. The U.S. and other countries prefer this to the conventional thermometer because the mercury releases poisonous gases."

Opto-Circuits exports between 150,000 and 200,000 digital thermometers to the U.S. and some to Mexico, all of which is produced at a unit that Ramnani acquired from Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) last year for an undisclosed amount.

The Singapore order would push the revenues of the digital thermometer division from 100-120 million to 200-250 million. The company was already expecting a 60 percent growth in revenues after exporting blood warmers to the U.S. Army during the Iraq war.

Blood warmers, an innovative medical product, are used during emergency operations to maintain the blood temperature at 37 degrees Celsius, which is the human body temperature, for the smooth flow of blood.

It also ensures that the antibiotics are immediately effective, a critical factor in a life and death situation. The Iraq war forced Ramnani to arrange to airlift the entire consignment instead of transporting it through sea.

Opto Circuits and U.S.-based Estil Technologies jointly developed the blood warmer.

"We got the order from Singapore for the digital thermometers because most of the competitors are based in China which itself is a SARS hotspot. The price differential is negligible," Ramnani said.

But, Ramnani's major worry is to meet the demand from countries like Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

"We are diverting some of our consignments meant for the U.S. to Singapore. But we will have to expand capacity if more demand comes in," he said.
Source: IANS
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