Afternoon Coffee: N95 mask shortages related to government logistics failures; Millions left without power in Texas; Flexport launches order management platform

Adobe Stock

About a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the medical-grade N95 masks are shipping out of American factories into storage, but healthcare workers say there still aren’t enough in ICU rooms. While N95 supply chain issues have long been reported about, research from the Associated Press found that the logistical breakdown is rooted in federal government failures to coordinate supply chains and provide hospitals with rules about how to manage their medical equipment.

Internal government emails show there were deliberate decisions to withhold vital information about new mask manufacturers and availability, the AP reports. Manufacturers, hospital procurement officials and frontline medical workers reveal that communication issues rather than actual shortages are depriving doctors, nurses, paramedics and others risking Covid-19 exposure of the first-rate protection of N95 masks.

Before the pandemic, the demand for N95 masks was about 1.7 billion a year, with 80% of supply for industrial uses and 20% for medical. But demand in 2021 is estimated to be about 5.7 billion. Many hospitals are continuing to build stockpiles over fears of another surge and restricting the number given directly to healthcare workers, the article said.

“[The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health] had approved almost 20 US manufacturers to make N95 masks, but had not published any guidance or notice of what is ultimately more than 100 million N95 mask-making capacity a month going unsold,” Chester “Trey” Moeller, a Trump political appointee who served as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s deputy chief of staff, told the AP.

The FDA said it is working with President Joe Biden’s pandemic response team and the healthcare industry to find answers, the AP reports.

Electric grid in Texas can’t keep up with demand, leaving millions without power

More than 4 million people were left without power across Texas on Tuesday morning because the electric grid couldn’t keep up with heightened demand, according to CNBC.

The article said that the majority of heating needs are met via electrical baseboard or heat pumps in the South region of the United States. The demand for electricity over the weekend was enhanced because of a winter storm and deep freeze that swept through the Midwest and Northeast.

The storm in Texas knocked out about 30 gigawatts of generation capacity, according to estimates. Consumers drove up demand to heat their homes, sending gas prices soaring.

“Weather is severe enough to curtail supply when demand is near all-time high levels,” RBC analysts said in a note. “Certain regional natural gas spot prices have shot up 10- to 100-fold in a matter of days.”

Flexport launches Flexport Order Management (OM) platform to streamline supply chain

Flexport, a global trade technology provider, announced on Wednesday the launch of a new Flexport Order Management (OM) platform. According to a press release, this newest Flexport solution will enable consignees and suppliers an effective way to plan, collaborate, validate and optimize supply chains.

Flexport OM is a step toward the company’s technology vision: to create one single platform for trade — a unified experience from product sourcing to products in transit to final delivery. The platform will include order-level messaging, automatic reminders and built-in approval flows. SKU and unit cost data associated with any purchase order will be automatically linked with any bookings and shipments on the platform.

It will also aim to help logistics managers improve the timeliness of bookings, accuracy of shipments, and collaboration with vendors through features like date management, booking approval, PO reporting and API/EDI integrations.

“In an ever complicated supply chain, Flexport OM works to simplify life for both Globe [Electric] and our suppliers,” Jason Starr, Director of Operations at Globe Electric, a Flexport OM pilot client, said in the press release. “With this new innovative technology, we are now able to have visibility in our supply chain even before the cargo is booked. Real-time conversation with our suppliers overseas, and being able to manage by exception, gives us the power of information to make timely and informed decisions. The best part of this new feature is Flexport built this not only for their customers, but with their customers, taking all feedback into consideration.”

The Spend Matters global monthly newsletter for February went out this week! Are you on the list? Don't miss out for 2021!

Share on Procurious

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.