A Perfect Storm: Examining the Supply Chain for N95 Masks During COVID-19

1 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2020

See all articles by Tim Kraft

Tim Kraft

North Carolina State University - Poole College of Management

Jimit Shah

Independent

Suriyaprakash Alagesan

Independent

Robert Handfield

North Carolina State University - Department of Business Management

Abstract

N95 masks are an important aspect in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to the virus's contagious nature. Coronavirus is a flu disease. It affects the respiratory tract of a person's body and causes difficulties in breathing. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus who are symptomatic experience mild to moderate respiratory illness, fever, and fatigue, and recover without needing to be hospitalized. However, there are cases wherein people are asymptomatic (i.e., not showing any symptoms) but still test positive for the virus and complicate attempts to stop its spread.This case introduces students to critical issues that occurred in the supply chain for N95 masks during the global pandemic. While many students will be familiar with the fact that supply chain disruptions occurred during the crisis, many will not know the specific details or why these disruptions occurred. The case can be used to illustrate the fundamental operational issues that occurred throughout the N95 masks' supply chain, discuss where improvements should be made, and emphasize the concept of supply chain resiliency.

Excerpt

UVA-OM-1708

Nov. 30, 2020

A Perfect Storm:

Examining the Supply Chain for N95 Masks during COVID-19

Demand is such that people are placing orders with everyone—tough to know how much of the forecast is real demand. We get orders from all the hospitals, but they are placing orders with multiple distributors—so we'll tell them we have a product, and then they'll say they got it from someone else! The market is nuts.

—Anonymous VP of sourcing at a multinational health care services company

. . .

Keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19, China, supply chain, health care, hospitals, masks, N95

Suggested Citation

Kraft, Tim and Shah, Jimit and Alagesan, Suriyaprakash and Handfield, Robert, A Perfect Storm: Examining the Supply Chain for N95 Masks During COVID-19. Darden Case No. UVA-OM-1708, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3747507

Tim Kraft (Contact Author)

North Carolina State University - Poole College of Management

Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27695-8614
United States

Jimit Shah

Independent ( email )

Robert Handfield

North Carolina State University - Department of Business Management ( email )

Raleigh, NC 27695
United States

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