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.

Coronavirus and your lab inventory

HappiLabs is getting questions from scientists, similar to “Hey, do you know if coronavirus will affect the supply chain and shortages with our supplies?”

The short answer is…yes. Supply chain disruptions are inevitable, but also unpredictable. It is a good idea to plan for some shortages but it’s hard to say which supplies.

Many items will not see any disruption, but things like disinfectants, masks and disposable gowns will be hard to buy.

Gloves…it’s hard to see supply going short. There are so many types, styles, brands, and suppliers for gloves. But we don’t want to speculate on inventory levels of any lab supplies because we just don’t know what will happen globally.

HappiLabs is staying in contact with certain suppliers and keeping an eye on their response, but even suppliers have a hard time predicting their future inventory levels. Therefore, we’re not putting a lot of weight in their responses right now. It’s a day-by-day situation.

If your lab feels the need to stock up on any items, here’s what you can do to help HappiLabs help you:

  1. Identify the catalog #’s and supplier name for critical supplies. Repeat CRITICAL. Don’t stock up on things you MIGHT need.
  2. Provide Catalog # and Supplier name to your Virtual Lab Manager. A photo of the package label is super helpful. Use our app to make it easier to send us a photo (downloadable at the AppStore, search for HappiLabs or HappiApp).
  3. Let us know if you want to stock up and buy those catalog #’s, or just wait and be ready to buy more.
  4. Be ready to ask a manager or executive for approval for increased spending.
  5. The HappiLabs team will help by identifying backup suppliers for critical supplies. In some cases, if you’re locked into a specific brand, you might be about of luck. But if you can change brands of a supply, we’ll find a backup supplier.

Before you spend crazy amounts of money on extra supplies, here are some risks to be aware of:

  • Do you have space to store extra supplies?
  • Do supplies (like reagents, antibodies) have expiration dates you need to be aware of?
  • If your science changes, you will be stuck with lots of inventory, and HappiLabs cannot help you resell it if you don’t use it anymore.

As far as HappiLabs operations goes, we are healthy, and taking standard safety measures to prevent the spread of covid-19. Our workforce is strong and you shouldn’t see a disruption from our operations at the moment. Although, considering an increase in demand for purchases, we are busier and might ask your lab for help if we can’t stock up at the pace you want to, or we’ll ask you to pay more for our employees working overtime.

My final words: stay calm and take this day-by-day.

If you have further questions, email your Virtual Lab Manager or myself.

-Tom Ruginis

CEO of HappiLabs