But does it lead to shortages in the supply chain for manufacturers? Keith Watson, Division Manager of Reza Hygiene, shares his insights about the challenges faced by manufacturers in times of Covid 19.
Depending upon the industry you are in, the market has seen some changes due to Covid 19. For example, transport, airlines, hospitality, hotels, restaurants and coffee shops are dramatically down. They have been closed to contain the pandemic and rightfully so. Even the Islamic tourism in Saudi Arabia is down. The Holy Haram in Mecca and Medina, which hosts millions of people every year is closed.
However, retail is dramatically up from a hygiene point of view. People and establishments are thronging the supermarkets to buy hand sanitizers and disinfectants. Home delivery is picking up and businesses like Talabat and others are picking up. Then we also have animal health food and beverage manufacturing gaining momentum. This holds true especially for animal health because we have had some issues there with concerns about bird flu in some farms.
Product lines gaining momentum
There is a totally unprecedented increase in the demand for hand sanitizers, hand washing soaps, surface disinfectants and personal protective equipment (PPE). Because we supply a couple of solutions along these product lines, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in demand. In terms of animal health, the stock is piling up. So, they have to make sure their supply line is protected. Hence, stocking up for hygiene products is essential for their operations too.
We are very lucky to have an excellent supply chain department in place. Back in early January, when the initial cases of Covid 19 surfaced, they took a decision to ramp up the supply of disinfectants, surfactants and all the components required. That was a challenge and we responded to that very well. Products like hand sanitizers, which use a lot of alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol), are in such high demand that even though we ramped up our supplies, no one could have predicted the graph.
Everyone has changed their habits completely, so managing the supply has been quite a challenge - not just in ethanol but also in the other plastic components that go along with it - pump sprayers, clip tops, etc. Most of them are made in China and when they had the shutdown, it became a major issue in the market. A lot of people have been using whatever type of dispensers they could lay their hands on. This has been a major challenge for all companies. Fortunately, we have a huge supply of ethanol in the pipeline (arriving or departing from the country of origin).
Overcoming the challenges
Apart from taking critical supply chain decisions early, we also looked if we could produce some of the products elsewhere. We have also set up a manufacturing unit in Dubai for products, which we are not able to move around in the GCC. It’s a matter of good sourcing, good pipelines and also expanding to other markets to manufacture some of the products.
Shortage of raw materials
A lot of companies and entrepreneurs from the UK and other parts of the world are finding some innovative solutions and converting alcohol plants into hand sanitizers. We are also witnessing the rise in prices but so far, we are still getting access to it. I don’t see a long-term shortage in these products. I think innovation and a can-do spirit from everybody around the world will ensure the supply keeps moving.
How cleaning companies can use cleaning products effectively
The most important thing is to know what products you are using, how to use it and the surfaces you are going to use them on. For Covid 19, it is important to check if the product is effective against enveloped viruses and do not take shortcuts when it comes to contact times.”