COVID-19 Update: All Hands On Deck!
Across the globe, supply channels in many industries are experiencing delays, and raising the costs of both materials and freight. This is particularly true with personal protective equipment (PPE) products and wet sanitizing / disinfectant wipes, which Teknipure produces. Suppliers are ramping up production globally, but not enough raw materials are available to support the increased global need. Much of the available supply for making wipes is being redirected towards making disposable garments and facemasks, which reduces our accessible supply; therefore, prices are increased in order to secure the materials. This is particularly true with non-woven materials (polypropylene, polyester/cellulose, microfiber, & polyester). Glove costs have risen approximately 20%, and facemasks & polypropylene have risen exponentially. Traditionally, laundered polyester knit was the most expensive wiper type, but the cost for the material has remained stable, and now the finished product is lower in cost than some non-woven options. No one would have predicted this situation just a few months ago, but we have all learned important lessons since then.
At Teknipure, our focus has been to maintain consistent supply of our goods to our valued clients. We have many mechanisms in place which help alleviate the impacts of change in supply. Teknipure maintains significant finished inventory in our facility, as well as product en-route to replenish. We have WIP (work in progress) goods at our factories for quick completion, and multiple factories (redundancy), each capable of producing like products. We have elevated communication with our factories and customers to help properly communicate order status and changes as they develop. We have significantly increased production volumes, and for many products types, we are getting ahead of the situation this month.
Even with all these tools in place, we have been impacted, as all our competition has as well. Our highest growth product line has been our 70/30 wet wipes, as clients are cleaning surfaces more frequently. We have been able to maintain supply of needed materials to produce these on-site, but we have seen a 5X increase in volumes being ordered. We have added staff, production hours, and ordered new production equipment to help improve our efficiency and capacity. We pride ourselves on prompt delivery, and like every other supplier of similar goods, this has been challenged with the very high volume of orders in-house. We ask our clients to plan ahead in purchasing these items as much as possible, and we encourage blanket orders, as many producers are experiencing similar delays.
This global pandemic and its related impacts to supply make us all keenly aware of limitations and weaknesses in supply channels, and you can be certain there will be some big changes in sourcing strategies and investments to prevent similar challenges from reoccurring. Continuity of supply is critical for consumers and manufacturers alike.
Teknipure is working hard to support you and investing in our future to accommodate growing needs. We are grateful for our clients and partners, and together we will succeed. Please contact us with questions or concerns about orders you have placed or need to place in the coming weeks.
With a Tiny Speck of Dust, the Connection is Lost
A common proverb passed down for ages says, “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost… For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” This reminds us that seemingly unimportant things can have grave and unforeseen consequences.
Take something as vital and widespread as fiber-optic technology for an example. Its vulnerable nature doesn’t usually come to mind. Fiber-optic capabilities are the heart of our modern digital age. Just like a human heart, reliability is not just a “nice to have”, it’s essential. Networks need to work seamlessly the first time, all the time.
Who could imagine a microscopic speck of dust is the usual culprit of derailing something as advanced as a fiber-optic network? That’s what happens with contaminated fiber end faces. One recent study found that dirt and debris cause 85% of network fiber link failures.
Dust particles are opaque and cannot transmit light. Even as small as 5 microns (about one-tenth the size of a human hair), these microscopic particles will obstruct the signal transmitted along the fiber. Think of it as the moon blocking the sun during a solar eclipse.
We Walk the Line: Redundancy and Continuity, Pandemic or Not
Redundancy within a company is a fine line to walk, and that line can determine either the preparedness of a business or the complete opposite (causing a company to fail in providing continuous products or services to its clients). Generally speaking, the biggest exposure of inappropriate redundancy can come from natural disasters or large-scale catastrophic events that cannot be prevented or forecasted.
The need for certain products can often vary, however, and in our industry, product use is based strictly on each individual customer and specific application. As a producer of single-use disposables, continuous supply is paramount. When a customer has an expectation and depends on a Teknipure product that meets this expectation every time, we anticipate the redundant orders and therefore, plan to house or produce that exact product consistently without letting supply lapse. This process can be particularly difficult in stock maintenance, as stock should always be available, but there is also a financial consideration with too much stock. We at Teknipure are constantly evaluating the level of orders coming in and expected to come in, the supply and lead time of raw materials needed to produce the products you’ve come to depend on, and other in-house factors (such as staffing), in our best effort to walk the fine line of redundancy.
Consistent movement in stock can mean a number of different things for a company, including a strategic understanding of when product will be ordered and moved, money in and money out will provide a solid balance, and the movement of other products is also consistent with stock replenishment. The steady flow of goods is obviously very desirable, as it creates a lean operation and helps to prevent potential waste! On the other hand, if inventory is lean, it can be worrisome if additional redundancies are not in place to support weak areas of the supply chain.
In the event of a pandemic, other public health concern, or even an impending snowstorm, people tend to hoard what they need/want (and what they think they’ll need or want) to help ensure their own uninterrupted supply. As we’ve all learned the hard way over the past few months, hoarding has ripple effects when done in mass, and further contributes to shortages of supply.
Redundancy, in combination with continuity plans, are usually critical to sustainability throughout the life of a business, but especially if there is an event that would generate a need that detours from a normal process. Each individual business will have to plan accordingly and precisely when it comes to creating and maintaining a business continuity plan for their specific needs. Particular to product supply, this may include a combination of elements such as finished inventory, work in process, product en-route for replenishment, and multiple sources of said good supply.
Businesses are currently in a position where they are either experiencing the immediate need to use the plan B and C options from their continuity plans, or they may be developing them as the disruptions in their business processes come along. The novel coronavirus pandemic has tested businesses on a global scale, and although all people across the board are experiencing this unfortunate crisis and its snowball and ripple effects, the pandemic has been an eye-opening when it comes to pre-planning in the event of an emergency, another drawn out situation like COVID-19, unexpected supply chain issues, or any other disruption to the regular, everyday ways we all normally conduct business.
We at Teknipure have been carefully observing the extreme negative impacts of Covid-19, and we’ve realized that both large and small businesses can see what areas of their operations are most supported, as well as areas of opportunity for more robust preparedness and responsiveness. Moving forward, it will be crucial that we are all planning accordingly for circumstances on all levels. Regardless of what the future brings, Teknipure will continue to employ and adjust our redundancy and continuity plans, to continue to bring you the highest quality cleanroom supplies when you need them.
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