Do you work in a cleanroom in a non-medical industry that is experiencing a supply shortage? If so, you are not alone. Specifically, PPE and isopropyl alcohol are in high demand and short supply globally. Vernick shares the concern of that of our clients. Here is what we know.
How COVID-19 Impacts the Supply Chain
The entire world stopped in March of 2020 as nations scrambled to contain the global COVID-19 pandemic. Because the virus that causes the disease is novel, many took precautions, such as staying in isolation and wearing personal protection equipment (PPE). Disruptions to the supply chain were inevitable, as demand skyrocketed far beyond the supply.
N95 Masks and Polypropylene
N95 masks are the best defense against small particulates and are required in cleanrooms, medical facilities, and operating rooms. Unlike cloth masks, N95 masks are made with polypropylene and given an electrostatic charge. The charged material allows for easy airflow while trapping viral particulates, bacteria, and environmental impurities. The process and technology required to produce N95 masks are complex. As such, supply cannot keep up with the ongoing demand.
The medical industry demand alone clearly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside the medical industry, governments and the military increased their demand. To make matters worse, industries such as biotech, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing maintained their demand, which is as high in Asia as it is in the U.S. The N95 supply chain includes materials sourced in both regions, both of which want to keep their produced materials to address their local needs.
Isopropyl alcohol also continues to be in high demand and low supply globally. In addition to hand sanitizers and makeup products, isopropyl alcohol is used in various industries that struggle to keep it in stock. For instance, high purity isopropyl alcohol is used for semiconductors. It’s also in polychlorinated biphenyls, which are used to make things like transformers and capacitors.
Supply Chain Shortages Demand Innovation
Governments and multinational corporations are taking an active role when it comes to addressing supply chain shortages. For example, the U.S. government has leveraged the Defense Production Act. As a result, manufacturing companies retooled their facilities to produce needed equipment. Additionally, many companies have innovated on their own, or engaged in public-private partnerships to do the same. One example of innovation is Exxon Mobile coordinating with North Carolina State University to produce dust-repelling speaker fabric as an alternative material for N95 masks. Another example is their partnership with organizations from NASA to GE to Boeing to identify other materials that could reasonably scale. Yet another area of innovation is through the use of 3D printing to quickly create prototypes. These types of examples are playing out in countries across the entire world.
Help Is on the Way
Even though access to cleanroom supplies, such as PPE and isopropyl alcohol, is still strained, innovation continues to accelerate production. Is your organization challenged by the lack of PPE supplies? If so, you should experience relief soon!
Vernick specializes in comprehensive cleanroom solutions for clients in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding areas. Call (844) 476-1464 to discuss your cleanroom needs.