5/6 COVID-19 update and Getting Back to Work in the New Normal

Supply Chain and Courier Updates

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

They are still practicing physical distancing and operations are a bit slower than usual. Sales reps aren’t traveling and so are quite responsive to quote requests on the whole.

Many are still prioritizing PPE for COVID-19 response. Smaller suppliers like CP Lab Safety (they’ve shipped some of their masks day of order) or other smaller suppliers are likelier to have availability (especially masks; in general “short” lead times are around two weeks).

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

Couriers are operating, but last mile deliveries can still be problematic. Thank delivery drivers, have clear signs that a lab is open to delivery, and let suppliers know that the lab is open and if there are any issues with a shipment, contact them to help resolve it.

The Happi Note – Getting Back to Work

HappiLabs and many of our partner labs continued to work as essential businesses during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, with many working from home.

Many labs did temporarily close and may be wondering about how to resume operations as the COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions ease.

Having a plan to safely get back to work and how COVID-19 will continue to impact operations is important. For instance, one lab has masks, hand-sanitizer, gloves, and sticky floor mats at key entryways ready for scientists returning to the lab.

Several suppliers are hosting webinars aimed at this:

HappiLabs remains at work and this month will be safely and fully re-opening our offices as shelter-in-place orders are eased.

We are grateful for the worlds scientists and healthcare workers that are working to mitigate COVID-19 and helping us all get back to work in new innovative ways.

COVID19 Supply Chain Updates 4/23

Supply Chain Updates

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

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

Many are still prioritizing PPE (especially masks; shortest lead times we’ve found are around two weeks).

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

Courier Updates

Keep close eye on shipments. Definitely get tracking numbers and monitor them and make sure items get delivered.

FedEx and UPS are both operating, but are not guaranteeing delivery, have suspended signature requirements for delivery verification, and aren’t always re-attempting deliveries if they can’t deliver to a site.

For global freight monitoring, Agility Logistics has put together this resource.

We recommend having a sign where deliveries occur stating a lab is open for deliveries and any relevant instructions to ensure a smooth delivery.

If a shipment goes awry, contact the shipper first to see if they can resolve it.

The Happi Note

There are a few labs in the HappiLabs network working directly on COVID-19. Distributed Bio is working on a therapeutic. Octant, Inc. is developing a better detection protocol for the virus. They’re two out of many others working to help the world manage a pandemic.

Grants dedicated to COVID-19 are also out there for scientists working on it.

Rheaply has worked with Northwestern University’s Computer Science department to set up a resource exchange program for getting critical supplies where they are needed. Follow the link to register.

HappiLabs continues to operate and we are grateful for the world’s scientists who work to identify, manage, and solve the world’s problems.

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.

When the HPLC Water takes a Tour of Wine Country (Parcel Misrouting)

The item is in stock in the local warehouse, the order confirmation comes in, the item ships as predicted, and then it all goes sideways. The package has gone to the wrong place and the item you thought was a sure delivery is now not going to deliver as predicted.

A map of the San Francisco Bay area with a pin in Suisun City, California, near Fairfield north of Oakland and the bay.
UPS misrouted a package from Tracy, CA. Instead, it made it to Suisun City, CA. In this case, they caught their mistake and corrected it.

Managing Delayed and Misrouted Items

UPS and FedEx make mistakes. Busy times for them exacerbate these (e.g. holidays). 
The best defense against delayed shipping is planning ahead and not being in urgent need of any item/reagent.
However, once it’s shipped and misrouted/delayed, here are some actions to be taken.

  • Don’t panic
  • Check tracking page and see if it updates within a day: UPS and FedEx do catch misrouting and correct it.
    • This works if it’s a non-temperature sensitive item that can be delayed a bit
  • If other delays crop up, contact the supplier and have them contact UPS/FedEx (they have direct contacts with shipping scientists don’t):
    • Customs delays – ask what FedEx/UPS need (usually a form)
    • UPS/FedEx claim an incomplete address – ask supplier to inform of full address
    • Weather delays/system issues – contact the supplier for a replacement if item is temperature sensitive

If a scientist does need to contact FedEx/UPS, call and say “agent” over and over again to get a human. Sometimes you can get a human by interacting with their online chat and say “no” when their automated system asks if they answered a scientists’ query (the systems then ask for a phone number and will call you quickly).


Misrouting and delays is one strong reason to pay attention to tracking numbers.

A UPS tracking page indicating a delay in delivery. It also indicated the last scanned location as Suisun City, CA.
An example of a UPS tracking page with a misrouted parcel that UPS caught and was working to re-route.

In the end, the misrouted HPLC water did enjoy its tour of wine country and was only a day later than scheduled.

Glossary

Local Warehouse/Delivery terminal – a distributors closest warehouse/hub to a delivery location
Tracking number – an alphanumeric code that allows tracking of shipments with a delivery company (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc) 
PRO number – an alphanumeric code that allows tracking of a shipment with a freight company (YRC, R&L, UPS freight, FedEx freight, etc)
Tracking page – web page to check status of a shipment and any potential delivery issues/delays
Temperature Sensitive – an item that is perishable/has to be kept cold for it to remain viable as a reagent