Pandemic re-cued, glove suppliers come to the rescue

May 24, 2022

During the pandemic, providers needed glove manufacturers and distributors of product for more than just the production and delivery of needed products. They also needed assistance in more efficiently managing glove inventory and usage patterns that included such services as consulting, demand forecasting and information management.

Here’s what five did.

“We developed a Strategic Stock Solution to help customers resume procedures during the pandemic. Health systems needed a way to make purchasing decisions based on real data, so they knew what supplies – and how much – to order. The solution gives customers increased supply chain resiliency and efficiency and increases their supply chain visibility.

“The Strategic Stock Solution is really a ‘blueprint’ to help health systems identify exactly what items (and how much) should be considered for their (pandemic) stockpiles. After health systems placed these stockpile orders, most had no space to store it. The amount of storage space needed for a 90-day supply of inventory can range depending on the size of the hospital or health system. For example, a stand-alone 350-bed hospital would require 260 pallets of PPE and 3,500 square feet of warehouse space to store a 90-day supply. A major, urban health system with approximately 5,000 beds would need 3,700 pallets and 50,000 square feet of warehouse space for the same 90-day supply (55,000 square feet is about the size of an American football stadium). Not only did they need inventory storage, but a way to get supplies from Point A to Point B.

“The Strategic Stock Solution is one way we’re helping customer navigate this challenge; it gives customers the ability to order and store their supplies in a Cardinal Health warehouse facility and ensures product can be shipped in less than 72 hours of the request. Plus, and very importantly, the solution provides visibility to customers’ inventory through standardized reporting to show our assistance with reconciliation and expiration date tracking. The result: space and time savings to help customers deliver the best patient care.”

Rosie Squeo, RN, Senior Clinical Consultant, Business & Clinical Optimization, Cardinal Health

“Since the onset of the pandemic, Mölnlycke has remained committed to keeping customers informed on a regular basis regarding the supply of Biogel Surgical Gloves. Our priority is always to service our loyal and committed customers and do our utmost to ensure reliable supply despite the impacts of worldwide market demand and transportation challenges affecting not only the surgical glove marketplace, but all industries. 

“To ensure consistent supply to customers, we closely monitor all incoming orders compared to historical demand and prioritize current customer volume requirements. In situations where a particular product is in short supply due to high demand, we offer Biogel substitute glove offerings with similar features to the fullest extent possible.

“As the lingering impact from the global transportation issues works its way through the shipping supply chain, we expect to return to our normally trusted stock levels and high fill rates with the return to standard shipment times.

“Mölnlycke has invested significantly to increase our ability to meet our customer product requirements including:

“Increased production capacity and factory expansion

“Increased shipping frequency from plants to distribution facilities

“Alteration of shipping routes to avoid congested ports

“Investment in expedited and expanded shipping options including sea, air and land.”

Corinne Schmid, Senior Director, Gloves, Mölnlycke

“Through our three-plus decades’ focused legacy in supplying industry-leading glove and PPE solutions to thousands of hospitals and facilities across the national healthcare market, Tronex Healthcare has always operated through an integrated customer partnership philosophy, structured around a long-term supply planning process that fully aligns our global production planning, logistics and inventory management infrastructure, to the specific and unique demand forecasts and dynamics provided by each of our committed customers. 

“Long-term program supply, including critical supply resiliency components such as domestic inventory buffers and strategic redundancy stocking, together with the extensive financial and logistical planning required to support, are all meticulously planned and positioned to assure resilient delivery of seamless outbound supply, and isolated best possible from impacts of global supply dynamics. Through the COVID-19 pandemic and all prior pandemics as well, this process enabled our sustained and substantial delivery of strong support through even the most challenging periods of the global crisis, including through the extended crisis periods when global production and supply into the US were severely impacted. 

“Furthermore, and as an essential business relied upon to deliver critical infection control solutions to millions of essential front-line healthcare pioneers, all Tronex internal teams committed extreme sustained efforts for months on end to exhaustively manage through the relentlessly changing global landscape challenges, as well as ensured constant engagement with each of our program customers and distributor partners, with intensified frequency, transparency, and fully maximized efforts to align support with the desperate demand.”

Edmund Tai, Vice President, Healthcare, Tronex

“It is critical to be able to forecast, store and allocate supplies in case of emergency. We recognize that it is challenging for healthcare providers to store a large amount of inventory though. As customers explore disaster preparedness options to be better prepared and build up inventory before an emergency strikes, we’re able to leverage more than 27 million square feet of distribution space to provide inventory management services and expand our customized third-party logistics 3PL capabilities and have created a Customer Emergency Response Tool to store customer owned product.”

– Meredith Fantom, Director of Marketing, Exam Gloves division, Medline Industries

“For near-term issues, we immediately instituted a protection and allocation program to prevent hoarding of gloves. We also ramped up our purchasing volumes with existing suppliers and increased our gloves inventory position. We worked directly with manufacturers to increase production in the U.S. and globally, held current suppliers to their inventory commitments, and helped customers vet new market entrants to protect against counterfeit products. Our Sales and Clinical teams worked with our customers on glove conservation strategies and consolidation measures – for example, reserving nitrile gloves for key clinical areas and COVID units while leveraging gloves of different materials in areas of low risk of exposure. 

“A key longer-term solution is greater control of manufacturing. We worked with 80+ of our members (customers) to partner with Honeywell on a new domestic exam glove source. Once fully operational, this new collaboration is expected to produce at least 750 million domestically made nitrile exam gloves in the first year alone. This is just one example of Premier and S2S Global’s ongoing strategy to work with members to invest in domestic and geographically diverse suppliers to build greater supply chain resiliency for the future.”

– Jeff Willink, Senior Director, Direct Sourcing Strategy and Continuous Improvement, S2S Global, a Premier Inc. company 

About the Author

Rick Dana Barlow | Senior Editor

Rick Dana Barlow is Senior Editor for Healthcare Purchasing News, an Endeavor Business Media publication. He can be reached at [email protected].