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.

Don’t Default to One Supplier

A woman stands in front of two doors, one blue, one red

A request comes in. It’s a supplier with an eCommerce site. To get the item ordered, the lab manager clicks a few times on a supplier site and the order is placed! Done. 

Except. It can pay to slow down a little and do a bit of comparison shopping. 

For example, this GeneJET kit is available through both Fisher Scientific and Thermofisher Scientific’s websites. Fisher wasn’t having a sale on this item, but Thermofisher was. By changing a website, money was saved! 

Item from Fisher Scientific Catalog. Source: Fishersci.com.
The same item on sale at Thermofisher.com (aka Life Technologies). Source: Thermofisher.com

EMD Millipore and Sigma are another example where this can work. EMD Millipore doesn’t often have promo codes. Sigma often does and EMD Millipore items are often available through sigmaaldrich.com.

Again, ostensibly, these are one company, Millipore-Sigma, but their web portals sometimes don’t behave that way.


These both are special cases of a general rule: if something is offered more than one place, definitely compare pricing, availability, and the lab’s relationship with supplier. Last: ask a preferred supplier to match a competitor’s better price when deciding where to buy an item. 

Cover Photo Credit: Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash.

HIRING — Support Virtual Lab Manager

Support Virtual Lab Manager at a growing life science company

If you have experience with lab management, purchasing, basic accounting, or customer service, apply!

ABOUT HAPPILABS

HappiLabs is a small business with a startup mentality in Chicago that provides a service to scientists called the Virtual Lab Manager. We support scientists in various ways, virtually, which includes acting as an outsourced purchasing department (some might say a Personal Shopper) for biotech companies and scientific research labs.

We have a mission: to improve the happiness of scientists and the quality of their research.

By helping scientists do their job, we are helping all the people on the planet who benefit from inventions, creations, and knowledge that scientists create.

Purchasing and Customer Service ScientistYou will work out of our Chicago office where you’ll support our Virtual Lab Managers (who are PhDs or long-time lab managers) as they manage labs across the country. You will be interacting with suppliers, freight companies, accountants and scientists.

You will be trained to be one of the best lab managers in the world.

EXPERIENCE

A strong candidate will have one of these backgrounds:

  • Lab manager or tech experience in a lab
  • Logistics or customer service experience (does not need to be in the sciences)
  • Purchaser or bookkeeper
  • Minimum Bachelor’s degree

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Utilize various apps and software for managing labs
  • Communicate with suppliers (sales reps, technical help & customer service) to obtain pricing and technical info, place orders, retrieve order updates, and solve logistics and supply chain problems
  • Keep detailed accounting records
  • Report progress and solve problems at team meetings

TIMEFRAME

Looking to start now, preferably in Chicago.

COMPENSATION

  • Full-time, salary
  • $35-55k, depending on experience
  • Medical and Dental health benefits
  • Company swag, coffee and snacks at the office, and weekly lunch

SKILLS AND TRAITS YOU SHOULD HAVE

We want a long-term commitment, someone who will help a small company grow into a large one.

  • Tech savvy (very good with a computer, its keyboard and multiple monitors)
  • Proactive mentality – help without being asked to help, and an ability to predict problems
  • Knowledge of hardware or mechanical engineering, and/or chemistry, and/or molecular biology
  • A passion for science and desire to make a difference in the world.
  • Confident presence on the phone. We frequently call suppliers

===== APPLY NOW! ======

CLICK this link –> HAPPILABS JOB APPLICATION (VIA A GOOGLE FORM)

It will not hurt to connect with Tom on LinkedIn.

What is the Busiest Day for Ordering Lab Supplies?

Wednesdays.

Fridays are 20% slower in terms of orders compared to the rest of the week.

HappiLabs took a snapshot of the last 10,000 orders placed by the Virtual Lab Manager team by day of the week.

IMG_6159

 

Why ordering slows on Fridays 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are busiest for order requests, perhaps reflecting scientists ordering for the next work week or VLMs working hard to get orders in that will deliver by week’s end.

Scientists may not be making as many order requests on Fridays because the weekend is calling. Scientists like to have fun too.

Many suppliers will  not ship on Fridays or process an order until the following week (especially if a West coast scientists requests an item from an East Coast supplier on Friday afternoon). VLMs know this and may hold off on ordering until Monday morning because the order will not ship or sometimes even be processed until then anyhow. Scientists likely have a sense of this as well.

It just goes to show that scientists and the scientific supply chain are working for the weekend.