ALOM is a global leader in supply chain management serving as a strategic partner to our customers by expertly and seamlessly conducting their key business functions from manufacturing to marketing.
PPE Quality Equals Safety and You Need Both
July 15, 2020
By Hannah Kain, ALOM President and CEO
More than a century ago, the “Spanish flu” spread around the world. Until Covid-19 hit this year, that was the world’s last pandemic. Nothing of this scale and severity had taken place in our lifetimes. No wonder most of us had so much to learn about what actually could happen during a pandemic. Here are some of the things I learned:
- Emotions are real. We have seen it: Pervasive fear of getting sick or even dying, fear of passing on the disease to loved ones, fear of personal or business financial consequences. When I realized the fear that ALOM staff members felt, I knew that I was sparing no expense in keeping everyone safe. Yes, safety has always been a given; yet the pandemic elevated safety to the top of my priority list.
- The supply chain to the supply chain may be the link that breaks. As businesses looked for PPE to protect workers, they discovered it was not easy to find. Scammers and shysters were out there, making promises and providing inferior products. Because quality PPE was – and still is – hard to come by, the supply chain was not getting back into full gear due to the inability of organizations to protect their workers. Interestingly, it was not a shortage of materials or components in the product supply chain breaking down, but rather the “side” supply chain of delivering safety gear. It made me think that supply chains are truly multidimensional, and maybe I will write more about that later in the year.
- Short term fixes to a long-term structural issue are difficult. As PPE shortages emerged, governments and the business world started the process of producing PPE. Yet, we learned the hard way that this was not a quick fix. Raw materials, such as paper components, and even plastic squeeze bottles, were in short supply and produced in different parts of the world. Freight and border restrictions bogged down shipments for weeks or months. Equipment was also in short supply, mainly produced in China, and could not be delivered for several months, followed by protracted installation time.
Realizing that ALOM needed to guarantee not just our own PPE supply, but also our clients’ PPE supply such that they could get back in business, ALOM applied our procurement and production knowledge and leveraged our supply base. With close to 20 years of medical industry experience, our procurement professionals know who to contact, how ensure the correct specifications and which inspection criteria to apply. They procured critical items, such as masks and gloves, and together with local manufacturers produced sanitizing products. This tactic was effective, and pretty soon we were well-stocked, and fully (and safely) operational. We are now able to provide high quality PPE to more businesses directly from our PPE store so they can protect their workers.
As the CEO, I feel responsible for everyone’s safety; my staff, their families, truck drivers making deliveries, the list goes on. ALOM is known for our extensive safety training such as screening for everyone operating equipment, lifting and using a ladder. Never had I thought that safety would include preventing aerosol particles of 10 micrometers (about 0.000039 of an inch) from entering staff members’ lungs. Yet, today that is the task. That is why there must be no compromise in the quality of PPE. The face masks must fit closely, the gloves must be sturdy and the sanitizer safe. I see cheap PPE circulating in the market place, and I ask myself who would put their staff members and clients at risk in order to save a few pennies.
We are all hoping for science and innovation to solve the long-term problem. In the meantime, everyone needs to act responsibly.