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Manufacturers and Companies Respond to Fight Covid-19

In this QAD Precision Report, we pay tribute to companies — and their workers — that are working to stop the spread of Covid-19 and ensure that medical staff have access to critical supplies.

Governments around the world have taken extraordinary measures to fight to contain the spread of Covid-19. With many nations essentially on lockdown, or near to it, authorities hope that by limiting contact outside of family groups, transmission rates will slow. 

Those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home with access to soap and water can practice good hand hygiene. Essential workers in many industries do not necessarily have the ability to do so. As a result, hand sanitizer is crucial to help protect their health and the health of the public that relies on them. 

Unfortunately, hand sanitizer is in short supply. The demand for hand sanitizer has, unsurprisingly, spiked. Some of this is necessary demand — we all want to protect our loved ones as best we can. Nonetheless, there have also been reports of people hoarding hand sanitizer and other essential supplies to sell via marketplaces. Marketplaces, however, have responded by shutting down sellers involved in price gouging on essential supplies.

Equally importantly to preventing the spread of Covid-19, is treating those that are ill and ensuring that healthcare workers have access to critical supplies. In addition, healthcare workers on the frontline need access to personal protective equipment (PPE). This allows them to treat the ill, and minimize the risk of contracting the virus themselves.

Like hand sanitizer, there has been a surge in demand for PPE such as gloves, masks and gowns. In order to supply these much needed items, a number of manufacturers have retooled their production lines to help fight the spread of Covid-19.

Life Sciences Companies Ramp Up Production

Life sciences companies are absolutely critical in the fight against Covid-19. As well as working around the clock on vaccine research, life sciences companies have ramped up production of much needed supplies.

In mid-March, Thermo Fisher Scientific announced plans to scale production of testing kits in April. At that time, the company had 1.5 million testing kits available. Under the new plans, Thermo Fisher Scientific expects to produce 2 million kits a week, and continue increasing production up to 5 million per week.

International life sciences leader, LGC, is working closely with government and regulatory agencies to help them meet their diagnostic needs. In addition, LGC has also scaled production of critical kit components so that laboratories are able to continue with much-needed testing.

Multinational conglomerate, 3M, has responded by doubling their global production of N95 respirators. The company is now producing almost 100 million N95 respirators per month. In a LinkedIn post, 3M Chairman and CEO Mike Roman, said that, “3M has a unique and critical responsibility in pandemic preparedness and response.” He also stated that although 3M is operating at maximum capacity, the company will invest in expanding so that they can double the output of respirators to almost 2 billion a year within the next 12 months.

Distillers and Perfumers Switch to Hand Sanitizer Production 

A variety of companies, both large and small, have switched production lines to make hand sanitizer. Last week, luxury goods manufacturer, LVMH switched production at its cosmetic and perfume facilities to make hand sanitizer. Globally known for iconic brands such as Givenchy and Christian Dior, LVMH will supply the hand sanitizer to health authorities in France free of charge.

Beiersdorf, the company behind Nivea, has also stepped up. Beiersdorf is making medical-grade hand sanitizer to help stop the spread of Covid-19 across Europe. The company plans to deliver 500 tonnes to medical facilities as well as other public service providers.

Likewise, alcohol companies have also begun producing hand sanitizer. Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Jameson Irish Whiskey and Absolut Vodka, is converting distilleries in the US to produce hand sanitizer. The company will donate the hand sanitizer instead of selling it. 

In a similar manner, the Scottish brewery, BrewDog, will make and supply hand sanitizer free of charge to local charities and communities. Multinational drinks manufacturer Diageo, makers of Guinness and Smirnoff vodka, is to partner with hand sanitizer manufacturers and supply them with two million litres of alcohol. The company plans to distribute the sanitizer to healthcare workers.

From Vehicles to Ventilators

Last week, the British government sent a ventilator blueprint to more than 60 manufacturers. In a conference call, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked a number of automotive manufacturers to make much needed ventilators. Companies tasked with this initiative include iconic British car makers Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover, as well as European airline manufacturer, Airbus.

Although some commentators believe that pivoting production to ventilators could be difficult within a short period of time, many manufacturers responded positively to the request. 

A spokesperson for Airbus stated: “These are unprecedented times and Airbus will help where it can.” Rolls-Royce also indicated a willingness to offer any practical help the company could provide.  Likewise Jaguar Land Rover that: “As a British company, naturally, we will do whatever we can to support our communities during these unprecedented times.”

From Frocks to Hospital Gowns

With stores closed around the world, fashion retailers and clothing manufacturers have switched to producing PPE such as hospital gowns and masks. Two of Europe’s largest fashion companies,  Inditex — parent to high street fashion chain Zara — and H&M have both promised to retool their operations to needed medical garments. Zara has already donated 10,000 masks. The company has promised to donate 300,000 more masks by the end of this week.

In addition, luxury fashion brands Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are to produce face masks. Gucci will make and donate 1.1 million masks and 55,000 medical overalls to authorities in  Italy. Another Italian fashion house, Prada, is to produce 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks.

Avoiding Hardship and Economic Supports 

The economic fallout from the global pandemic is hard to quantify. Governments are responding in the hopes of minimizing economic hardship on citizens. The UK government has pledged to pay 80 percent of the salaries of workers furloughed if companies are unable to pay their workers. Similarly, the Irish government recently announced a subsidy of 70 percent of a worker’s salary up to a maximum of €410 per week if companies are unable to pay their staff.

This Tuesday, US Congressional and White House officials said that the government was close to agreeing a Covid-19 stimulus package for US businesses and workers. The package will cost nearly $2 trillion.

These unprecedented measures by governments are necessary to protect workers from falling into poverty at a time when they cannot work. In addition, a number of corporations have promised to assist in other ways. 

Starbucks, for example, will continue to pay workers for 30 days, whether they come into work or stay at home. The company has pledged to do this for all workers, irrespective of their coronavirus status. In addition, Starbuck staff who continue to work during the crisis will receive an extra $3 per hour for the next month. The iconic coffee chain has transitioned all stores in the US and Canada to drive-thru and delivery only to protect workers and the public. 

A number of banks have also stepped up to assist customers. Bank of America will let customers defer payments on mortgages and loans by request. In addition Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, pledged $100 million for local communities to increase medical response capacity, as well as provide access to food and learning. Other banks that have promised to assist customers include Citi, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and Wells Fargo in the US.

Time and space makes it impossible for us to detail the many varied positive contributions that companies are making during the Covid-19 crisis. The companies discussed above are just a few of the many, many organizations that are working tirelessly to assist authorities, workers and communities. We are grateful for all their efforts and the hard work that their staff are undertaking to fight the pandemic. Thank you. 

About QAD Precision – Trusted Global Trade and Transportation Execution

QAD Precision, a division of QAD Inc., provides industry-leading global trade compliance, and multi carrier transportation execution solutions from a single, integrated platform. An ISO-certified company, QAD Precision assists companies to streamline their import, export and transportation operations, optimize deliveries, and increase logistics ROI. QAD Precision’s scalable and extensible solution easily integrates with existing ERP and WMS solutions. Industry leaders in every region of the world rely on QAD Precision’s global support centers to leverage thousands of carrier services and manage millions of global trade and shipping transactions every day. For more information about QAD Precision, visit www.qadprecision.com.

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