Lab Manager actions while physical distancing and COVID19 Supply Chain Updates 4/15

Lab Manager Actions

Here are some action items HappiLabs recommends while operations at the lab are limited:

  • Chemical inventory (and gathering SDSs that are missing)
  • Take refresher courses on safety and operations
  • Inventory and document capital equipment on site
    • Gather serial numbers, warranty expiry dates, service agreements, and maintenance contact info on a spreadsheet
  • Plan to start up again (make a plan for people to ramp up work
    • Including getting orders in place where possible (some suppliers will hold them until you’re up and running again)
  • Review suppliers/supplies currently used and shop around for better pricing/quality (sales reps are pretty responsive just now)
  • Catch up on reading papers
  • Do technical research on supplies/equipment that might be needed
  • Ensure any equipment not in use is properly shut down (e.g. BSCs)

Supply Chain Updates

Per our last updates, suppliers are mostly operating and processing orders.

They are practicing physical distancing and operations are a bit slower than usual.

Reminder that some suppliers are considering all sales final and not accepting returns due to COVID-19.

And some suppliers are noting that FedEx and UPS are no longer guaranteeing delivery.

Courier Updates

Couriers continue to operate, but note they are still missing deliveries, at times only making one attempt before returning to sender. Last-mile delivery is still the biggest current issue.

FedEx and UPS, as we have noted are also not guaranteeing delivery and not offering reimbursement for lost packages.

If you do need an order processed, let the supplier know that the your lab is open and accepting deliveries and post signage at your delivery entrance to signal to delivery drivers deliveries are being accepted.

The Happi Note

Biocom is maintaining a list of institutions needs for PPE that are working on the COVID-19 front lines. If you have excess, consider donating.

There is a similar list of institutions in need in Illinois and a team is working to match those with supply to those with demand.

HappiLabs is continuing to monitor the effects on the scientific supply chain and continuing to help scientists get the quality items they need to continue their research.

COVID19 Supply Chain updates 4/8

Life sciences suppliers are still largely operational and working, albeit a bit slower than usual as they work to manage processing orders while protecting their own workers as much as possible.

PPE supplies remain tight. Gloves are more available than masks, gowns and sleeves.

Supply Chain Updates

Charles River and The Jackson Laboratory

Animal deliveries affected (via an email from Charles River):

  • As of 4/13 will not be making animal deliveries on Wednesdays in the Bay area
  • Throughout the rest of the week, they are making fewer stops along their routes.
  • Delivery times will be earlier than usual as well given their reduced delivery schedule.
  • Jax has a resources page for managing animals, including cryoperservation and pre-ordering for when labs re-open
  • Jax is also sending around a truck on April 13th and 20th in the San Francisco Bay Area if a lab wants mouse strains picked up for cryppreservation (contact jaxservices@jax.org to inquire).

VWR (could be affecting other suppliers as well)

Some suppliers are experiencing a high volume of unauthorized returns (i.e. couriers unable to deliver and returning items to sender).

  • VWR has told us they have a lot of returns they are sorting through
  • If you *need* an item you ordered, they recommend placing a new order while they sort things out.
  • As always, call the supplier to talk to the shipping compay regarding misrouted/returned packages.
  • VWR has cancelled PPE orders drop shipping from manufacturers like 3M due to high demand. 3M is essentially refusing the VWR purchase orders.
    • This is evidence that suppliers are prioritizing fulfillment for hospitals/companies directly involved in working on COVID-19.

Fisher

  • Fisher Scientific now has a statement on their site akin to what most other suppliers have said about prioritizing PPE orders for customers directly doing work on COVID-19.
  • As with other suppliers, take extra time to order and note the full name of a recipient and let the supplier know a location is open to deliveries.

Twist Bioscience

Twist Bioscience is the first supplier we have seen to actively state they will accept an order and delay shipment until a lab re-opens. If you ask when placing an order, some suppliers will do this for the scientific community even if not stated as openly as Twist Bioscience did.

Courier Updates

Couriers are operating as they were last week and still working to sort out non-delivered packages (often just returning to sender). Get in touch with the supplier to attempt to re-route any packages. See our last post for how couriers are being affected.

The Happi Note

Suppliers are managing this and as essential businesses in response to COVID-19, remain open.

Keep washing hands and ensure that surfaces are properly cleaned. Production Automation Corporation has gathered guidelines for cleaning surfaces to mitigate COVID-19 spread (though note: these are recommendations based on what we know has worked against other coronaviruses and can reasonably be expected to work as well against SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19).

If you have extra supplies, Biocom has a site of places requesting items and to register if you are needing supplies.

HappiLabs is contining to monitor the supply chain and is still working along with our partners to help scientists during this pandemic.

COVID19 updates 4/3

Science goes on and most life sciences suppliers are considered essential and remain operational, though operating more slowly as they practice physical distancing (i.e. customer and technical services work from home).

Supply Chain Updates

Items outside of PPE and patient sample collection items remain largely available and the normal supply chain is operational, if slower.

Worth repeating that PPE and patient sample collection items like masks and flocked swabs are are in short supply and often on backorder.

For PPE requests with reputable suppliers, HappiLabs recommends the following:

  • Don’t believe a supplier website about their availability/lead time.
  • Calling customer service is also often not reliable at the moment.
  • Get an order in anyway for the PPE item you want.
    • This might prompt an estimated delivery date and gets you on a waiting list.

Carrier Updates

FedEx has a page dedicated to how COVID-19 is affecting their operations and deliveries. Highlights:

  • FedEx has options to re-route packages for local pickup if a delivery is missed
  • They recommend letting vendors know a lab is open for deliveries (for HappiLabs, we’ve got you covered!)
  • Cashback guarantees and delivery signature requirements have been suspended.

UPS has a similar site minus the help with delivery options. And as we reported last week, our anecdotal experience is that UPS seems to be having more delivery disruptions and problems than FedEx.

While most of the carrier industry is still working, their operations *are* often affected, especially in the final miles of delivery to a specific address.

We still recommend when placing an order scientists let their supplier know they are open and to place obvious signage stating that fact for the benefit of delivery people.

The Happi Note

COVID-19 is still around and physical distancing orders have been extended in many places around the world, including the United States.

The recommendations we made in our last COVID-19 impact post still stand. Keep washing your hands regularly.

We’re still working. Many labs are still working, even if limited just now.

Most items are in stock at suppliers and passionate scientists are continuing to work, including many on the novel Coronavirus, working toward solutions.

We’re here to improve scientists’ happiness and quality of their research and are thankful to all of them who provide a positive vision of the future, especially in times of uncertainty and disruption.

COVID19 Life Science Supply Chain Impact March 27, 2020

Our Coronavirus Task Force is keeping up-to-date on the scientific supply chain. Read about our goals and team here.

As we gather supplier statements about their operations during the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world, here is what we’ve learned this week about Suppliers and Shipping companies.

Supplier Operations

Most scientific suppliers remain open as essential businesses to the healthcare industry. That doesn’t mean everything is operating as normal though.

Suppliers are operating a little slower due to working from home, and people working from the office while following social distancing protocols. This means customer service and other departments are often not as easy to get a hold of by phone or chat. Therefore, processing orders at some vendors is slow. It varies by supplier and changes by day.

PPE like masks, gowns, gloves, soap, and sanitizers are still in short supply. Many suppliers are limiting the amounts of PPE scientists can buy at one time or reserving the supply for hospitals and governments first.

Other notes:

    • 80% of the top 70 scientific suppliers have provided statements about their operations.
    • ULine, Teknova, and Fisher Scientific have stated they are prioritizing supply for those working directly on the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • Teknova has gone so far as to set up a dedicated email address for those labs working on COVID-19 (Covid19@teknova.com)
    • Of the suppliers with no statements thus far, most we have ordered from this week are open and processing order requests.

Suppliers who have announced closure/limited operations due to COVID-19:

New benefits from suppliers:

Amazon

Though not an essential warehouse for critical supplies, Amazon extended the closure of a warehouse for deeper cleaning in Kentucky today. And such incidents are what led BioLife Solutions, in heavily affected Seattle to announce closing of operations until May 4.

Shipping Operations (UPS, Fedex, etc.)

The “final mile” of deliveries are facing some issues. At HappiLabs, we have noticed that UPS in particular is having deliveries not attempted or instantly returned to the sender with no re-attempts made.

In general, note that shipping companies are having some ‘final mile’ issues delivering to varying degrees.

Actions to take

    • For items in transit, let suppliers know your address is open to deliveries.
    • Post clear signage at your door:
We are open. Call 555-1234 if the door is not open. Science must go on!
    • Bribe UPS or Fedex drivers. With food! And kind words (“thank you!”). A snack tray by the door can help ensure future deliveries occur without issue.

Those are the updates for today. Tune in next week as we continue to report our findings.

The HappiLabs Coronavirus Task Force.

The HappiLabs Coronavirus Task Force

HappiLabs is receiving many questions from scientists about the reliability of their supply chain and related functions. “Are my experiments at risk?!” We work towards a mission and will not let you down. Our mission:

To improve the happiness of scientists and the quality of their research

Therefore, we have appointed four of our Virtual Lab Managers (two PhD’s and two seasoned lab managers) to help organize and share relevant and factual information about the scientific supply chain during the coronavirus pandemic.

They will be meeting about 3-4 times per week and have three goals:

    1. Be a reliable source of information about the scientific supply chain.
    2. Keep our scientists updated on how the supply chain will affect their operations.
    3. Continue to do our job, as Virtual Lab Managers, to the best of our ability.

Here are actions we are taking to accomplish these goals for you:

    • Organize supplier updates. You know all those emails you’re getting from suppliers about their actions during the pandemic? We’re reading them all, filtering useful from non-useful info, and report important, reliable information. Which suppliers are being affected, which are not, and which are not providing any updates?
    • Focus on UPS, Fedex and all shipping companies. We’ll use public information that they provide along with anecdotal information that we see in real-time. Is UPS slowing down? What issues is Fedex having? 
    • Track availability of core items. This includes PPE and related items, gloves, and all other lab supplies that are critical to our network. Scientists, we’ll help you stock up or reserve critical supplies for your experiments.

We plan to provide updates every couple days, or when urgent messages are required to be shared. For now, instead of blast emailing everyone, we’re going to post updates on our blog (here), Twitter (@happilabs_org), and LinkedIn (HappiLabs). 

Meet our Coronavirus Task Force: