China enlists California PPE supplier to fight shortages

China have enlisted the help of a Southern California maker of PPE products to help with the country’s shortage of goggles and facemasks.

The coronavirus that started in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December is responsible for more than 1,300 and infected more than 59,000 people worldwide.

This has resulted in many forced closures of areas of China which is having an immediate effect on the major supply chains of manufacturers that rely on products or components from China.

Alongside this, China’s huge population of 1.4 billion people are now desperate to source protective measures against the virus.

This now means that China, and the world, are facing an international shortage of PPE such as face masks, goggles and other personal protective apparel that is recommended to prevent the spread of the virus.

PPE manufacturer, Paulson Manufacturing, based in Temecula, CA between Los Angeles and San Diego, has waded into the fight to try and provide help.

According to the L.A. Times, the company’s CEO Roy Paulson received an email from Chinese hospital officials in January saying they wanted to purchase all facial PPE as soon as possible. They were particularly interested in Paulson’s ‘infectious disease control eye goggles and face shields’ which protect healthcare workers.

Paulson’s Manufacturing also manufactures PPE for arc flash, industrial, tactical and firefighting industries.

Quickly, Paulson Manufacturing and Chinese officials signed a $2 million contract which represents 5 percent of the company’s expected 2020 revenue to produce 5,000 goggles and 5,000 shields per day, which is 10 times as much as the company normally produces per day.

CEO Paulson told the L.A. Times that he was already expecting China to request those items, but he wasn’t prepared for the scale they ended up asking for. In order to produce the quantity China needed, Paulson Manufacturing’s assembly lines were increased to maximum capacity.

Production was only one problem. The other lay with the logistics. Because China placed massive restrictions on sea imports, the only option was air freight. Many airlines were also shutting down flights to and from China, Paulson also faced issues there.

‘We’ve told the shipping companies that these are critical medical products. We have to get these things over there to China. They’re waiting from them,’ Paulson told the L.A. Times. ‘I’m emphasising the humanitarian angle on this thing, but not everybody was seeing it the same way.’

‘But there’s always somebody there that’s willing to carry the goods if you just pay a premium. So right now we’re having to pay a premium to get the stuff over there, and we’re shipping it by United Parcel Service because they have dedicated aircraft.’

Paulson has said the company is passing along the extra cost to its customers and that he hired 10 additional employees for this stretch amidst the virus. The CEO has stated that the company is expecting that the crisis in China will last another three months.

Aside from the logistics, Paulson Manufacturing is dealing with its own supply chain issue. The company’s first shipment of goggles and shields was shipped on 5th February. Paulson has stated that he’s finding it difficult to get the materials needed to make the products for China whilst simultaneously keeping his pledge of using only US-made raw materials, including a foam interface, transparent anti-fog sheet and elastic strap.

‘It’s the simplest product I make in the factory, but for us, making this many requires an immense amount of material,’ Paulson told the L.A. Times. ‘While I had the inventory of some of the raw materials, I didn’t have all that I needed. So I’m still pulling them in. All my vendors have been very gracious, very understanding, bending over backward. I’m just having to be creative to come up with the volume that I need.’

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