AUTHOR: Nicolas Bykoff
Richard Heppell, our COO/President, recently published a piece in Industrial Distribution to address PPE market problems and to reaffirm that reshoring PPE and more specifically single use gloves is the best solution to avoid shortage and unreasonable price increases for the next pandemic.
With the Pandemic, the demand reached skyrocketing levels. generating shortages but also prices increases of more than a 1000% (April 2020). The urgency of need with time constraints made difficult to find the right and reliable PPE manufacturers. Trying shortcuts led to loss of quality and faulty products putting American lives at risk.
Addressing the problem, the Biden administration extended the Berry Amendment to PPE and signed into law the bi-partisan Make PPE in America. But this is not enough. Policy and industry stakeholders must take actions to avoid the same scenario.
Be committed to onshore suppliers
The temptation of going offshore for PPE supply is strong. Multiple Asian PPE suppliers have been banned to ship to the US for forced labor practices and other violations. Major Chinese suppliers not hit by a ban, are approaching healthcare entities and Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs).
But the early pandemic lessons must be learned. Because cheap overseas PPE can quickly become crippling from a cost perspective if buyers run into exorbitant shipping costs, delays or inferior product issues.
Be wary of onshore opportunists
Recently, at SHOWA we have seen several organizations jumping on the train of opportunities and claims that they able to provide billions of gloves.
PPE nitrile glove manufacturing is complex and requires heavy resources. It can’t happen overnight.
Medical-grade nitrile gloves are even more demanding. They relied on nitrile latex as raw material for which there is a finite supply. Moreover a few facilities and companies can offer such quantities.
If a PPE deal sounds too good to be true, it is
There are countless bad ending stories about PPE. The worst may be this businessman ordering $2 million worth of gloves from a Thailand based company and getting at delivery re-used and dirty gloves. In total the counterfeit, defective and overpriced PPE contributed to the $674 million in estimated fraud losses due to COVID-19 scams as of January 2022.
Buyers should be careful and scrutinized PPE suppliers. And do not believe all claims.
At SHOWA, our factory in Fayette, Alabama continues its extension. A plan decided prior the pandemic. Since last October (2021), 2 new productions lines are up and running. We are now building another facility that will contain another 2 lines adding 400 million single-use gloves to our existing 800 million-glove capacity. More recently, we received the FDA 510(k) approval, meaning that we are the first to bring to market a biodegradable medical glove using our Eco Best Technology.