Dear Valued Stakeholders
The advent of the COVID-19 global pandemic was something that we all weren’t prepared for. The pandemic has had a negative impact on a multitude of industries as we have seen businesses closed and restrictions imposed on the movement of goods and people. Concurrent with these developments, we have seen a massive spike in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as the 3M 1860 N95 and 8810 FFP 2 disposable respirators in our region. This has led to shortages in PPE supplies due to limited availability of raw materials to manufacture and manufacturing capabilities not being able to meet demand.
In discussions held with 3M South Africa where the 8810 is manufactured, we have been advised that it will be at least 15-24 months before the supply chain normalizes, a clear indication that the challenges we face will be with us for the foreseeable future.
In this regard, we at Medent Safety are looking at alternative ways of servicing our clients’ needs whilst ensuring that your employees who work in hazardous conditions are adequately protected against the risks associated with your operations. This includes educating our clients on alternative respiratory protection such as use of the 3M 6300 and 6500 reusable respirators with relevant cartridges and filters. Not only do these respirators last for a longer period, but they also cost less over a longer period where disposable respirators are in use. Where we have clients who insist on the use of disposable respirators, I urge you to work closely with our Business Development Executives who can assist in forecasting and sourcing limited quantities with various lead times. Given the current operating climate, the days of just in time (JIT) orders are a thing of the past. Expectations of required quantities being supplied at client given timelines run the risk of not being able to procure sufficient PPE. We continue to work with our original equipment manufacturer suppliers to source
necessary PPE supplies but in order to do so, we require sufficient lead times and, in some cases, an upfront commitment in the form of a prepayment.
We are aware of price gouging and arbitrage going on in the market. In the grey trade area, i.e. unauthorized distributors, a single 8810 disposable respirator is retailing between US $3.50 – $5.00 ex VAT. These are highly inflated figures and unjustifiable. I would like to emphasize that Medent Safety does not participate in these kinds of activities as we would never seek to profiteer during a global pandemic. These are truly unprecedented times that we are living in that call for us to change the waywe have traditionally done business. As we continue to navigate the ‘new norm’, I call on all companies and individuals to stand together responsibly in the fight against COVID-19. With our valued stakeholders, we will continue to work together to ensure that your PPE requirements are met as best as they possibly can to ensure that your employees are adequately protected.