Businesses sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) encounter several danger zones as unprincipled players exploit the unparalleled demand. Since the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic from 2019 till date, the international health care communities have been swamped with possibly contagious patients who need testing and care. To curtail the spread of disease from patients to health care workers and vice versa, the use of PPE has become essential.
There have been scarcity of PPE and the demand for some of these items is expected to increase in certain locations. PPE became a scarce product in several regions where it is meant to cater to the needs of infectious victims. To respond to this scarcity, there is a need to increase the supply of PPE, which would also necessitate an increase in the production of PPE.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic unraveled the global overdependence on Chinese manufacturing. This is no different from most of the international products manufactured at low cost in China. It took the world a while to realize the consequences of this overdependence, especially for lifesaving protective equipment. Nevertheless, it later realized this error when lives were at stake. Thus, this article would analyze how to build a robust PPE sourcing strategy.
WHAT EXACTLY IS PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
Personal protective equipment or PPE are important supplies needed to safeguard public health. These gadgets are worn to reduce vulnerabilities to threats that cause severe illnesses or workplace harm. COVID-19 based PPE may include such items as:
TIPS FOR SOURCING PPE
Global sourcing and procurement are complicated and sourcing for PPE presents its own distinctive challenges.
Permits and certifications
There are several vendors selling PPE with false certifications due to the high demand for these products. If you do not have an independent performance certification, quality certifications are not something suppliers should take for granted. Perform your due diligence on prospective manufacturers before you go into business with them.
These checks are important because only manufacturers with licenses and permits can export PPE products. Furthermore, you can also put a call through to the manufacturer to verify their quality offerings. There is often a certain component of gut feeling in this setting. Notice if the supplier does not have adequate knowledge about the product, if they don’t mention certifications, or if they don’t appear to have a collaborative relationship with their suppliers.
These are cues to look out for. If they do not pass on all three features, your company can be at risk of delays, financial and reputational damage. A qualified PPE manufacturer must have documents that demonstrate that that they have all the authorizations and licenses to export PPE products. Some of the prominent certifications a Chinese manufacturer must have are listed below.
- Export license.
- Medical device manufacturing enterprise license (“MD License”).
- Export health and quarantine permit (“EHQP”) distributed by the SFDA.
- Medical products administration online database.
- Food and drug administration (“FDA”) verification of the export destination country.
- Medical device products registration certificate issued by the SFDA for each product to be sourced.
Another factor you should consider is the standard price for the PPE. Prices for these lifesaving gadgets often fluctuate. You may find that the amount you paid the day before might have changed after a while. Therefore, always verify that the supplier understands your specifications to avoid certain issues. Likewise, you should discuss volume projections at the beginning of the transaction to ascertain that the supplier can fulfill your purchases over the long haul as international volume pressure soars.
Capacity and Lead Times
There is a pressing global demand for PPE and most of these suppliers are even now overburdened with orders placed by local businesses. As such, it is vital to double-check and even triple-check the supply capacity and lead time of the supplier before you go into business with them. This would save you the time that would have been wasted on discussions that might not yield favorable results.
If it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is. The most frequent scams are associated with quantity, quality, availability and delivery times. There have been reports about instances where vendors were auctioning products that have already been sold. Additionally , cases where vendors tried to sell non-existent PPE that, at the end of the day left business high and dry, have also been well reported.
There is hardly any change for now when it comes to PPE sourcing. However, the recent trade wars between the US and China, alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, have uncovered weaknesses of our international trading systems, emergency stockpiles and supply chains. We need to build a more robust PPE sourcing strategy for the safety of frontline staffs and highly contagious patients.
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Personal protective equipment – Overview | Occupational safety and health administration. (n.d.). Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA