The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks and gloves. Such items keep essential workers as well as the public safe from contracting or spreading the virus, and countries around the world have been scrambling to secure enough of these products.
Many non-PPE manufacturers have stepped in to help address the shortage, with major automobile producers, backpack manufacturers and even individuals with 3D printers shifting their operations to produce face masks, nasal swabs and other items. Hospitals have also changed their procurement approaches and adopted new methods, such as using online marketplaces, as they explore their options for securing PPE.
Vendors of 3D printers are developing and publishing designs that consumers can use to print nasal swabs and other items for donation to hospitals. The vendors say the technology allows users to quickly pivot to making PPE, as 3D printers do not require intensive changes to equipment or workflows to produce specific items. This means 3D printing communities can jump into production to help fill gaps while larger manufacturers continue their transitions.
Many nontraditional manufacturers have also gotten their PPE production lines up and running, and hospitals are working to connect with them. Healthcare procurement specialists usually rely on long-term vendor relationships, but many are now moving beyond this approach and leveraging eCommerce business-to-business (B2B) platforms. One such marketplace reported receiving 15,319 requests for ventilators between March 1 and April 17, compared to just 28 requests between January and February.
Third parties are stepping in to help healthcare buyers capitalize on nontraditional PPE purchasing options without falling victim to fraudsters that masquerade as legitimate suppliers. Technology company IBM recently launched a procurement platform intended to ease this challenge by helping hospitals purchase from vetted suppliers.
Read more about these stories and other headlines in the report.
Clothing brands are diving in to help combat PPE shortages, pivoting their operations from making apparel such as T-shirts to producing face masks, for example. Smoothly and rapidly navigating these transitions requires creating new product designs, leveraging local supply chains and getting factories reopened and running, explained Matt Hall, vice
president and chief communications officer at Hanes. In this month’s Feature Story, Hall discusses how the company rallied to produce more than 200 million face coverings and why such items are likely to become part of the brand’s standard product offerings.
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Manufacturers of all sizes have been working hard to shift into PPE production and help address the scarcity of such equipment. Businesses that normally produce backpacks have transformed their operations to make face shields, for example, and many others have made similar leaps. This month’s Deep Dive examines the factors behind a severe PPE shortage in the United States and how many producers are working to plug this gap.
Read the Deep Dive in the report.
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