Ansell opens four new surgical dipping lines in three plants in Sri Lanka and Malaysia
December 2021 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting
Nearly two years since the early disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare supply chain still struggles to source the critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies that healthcare workers need to provide patient care as well as protect themselves. The pandemic severely impacted the supply chain ecosystem, exploiting the need for stronger supplier resiliency and solid continuity plans.
While some manufacturers were severely impacted by COVID-related constraints and have communicated their inability to supply at their historical levels, Ansell – a manufacturer of more than 10 billion gloves per year – will have commenced production on four new surgical glove dipping lines by the end of 2021. Three lines are operational and the fourth line will begin producing by November 2022. These new lines are spread across three Ansell-owned plants in Sri Lanka and Malaysia, minimizing the production risk should one of the countries impose lockdown measures. The new capacity is part of the ongoing expansion that Ansell has undertaken during the past five years, significantly increasing their production output.
Being “Future Ready”
“As a forward-thinking organization, Ansell spends a great amount of effort to understand market dynamics and challenges facing healthcare facilities,” said Andrew Hurdle, Senior Marketing Manager, Acute Care – NA Medical for Ansell. “Market demand is projected to grow globally, and supply chain leaders are seeking dependable suppliers for surgical gloves and other safety solutions. Ansell is committed to being that supplier and partner that health systems can rely on now and in the future.”
A typical surgical glove line takes approximately 18 months from construction to full commission. Onboarding depends on various regulatory factors. New products have lengthier approval processes, but if the same product is manufactured in the same factory in an equivalent line it’s an easier process.
A “future ready” organization like Ansell is addressing future needs in healthcare and the logistical challenges to meet them, such as getting the right products in the doors of health systems. “The status quo is no longer acceptable,” Hurdle emphasized. “The need for safety solutions remains at peak levels for health systems and the pandemic continues to be uncertain.”
Many healthcare organizations understand the importance of safety stock practices for critical supplies, along with a blend of just-in-time stock practices. And some governments are mandating the amount of healthcare supplies that must be on the shelves of health systems.
“The inability for health systems to secure critical supplies like surgical gloves can lead to cancellations of surgeries,” Hurdle said. “That can cause significant financial ramifications and impact a healthcare facility’s future.”
Ansell implements dedicated demand planning safeguards that ensure continuous supply delivery to its global customer base. All raw materials used to construct Ansell’s gloves, like natural rubber latex, neoprene and polyisoprene, are validated from at least two different sources, allowing Ansell to maintain supply and minimize cost increases. Additionally, biomass burners are used to minimize total carbon emissions and supplement local utilities. Water retention tanks are now on site to prevent operational disruptions in the event of a drought.
What Suppliers of PPE are Facing
The reliance upon outsourcing for production and sterilization prevented some suppliers from controlling their product delivery to their customers. At the peak of the COVID-19 surge, the demand for Nitrile exam gloves skyrocketed to an all-time high. Manufacturers of both surgical and exam gloves deprioritized surgical glove production, leaving those outsourced suppliers at a loss in glove manufacturing capacity and unable to deliver supplies. Ansell has dedicated lines for surgical and exam products, which ensured production of both were secure and protected customer supply.
“More than ever, higher emphasis must be placed on suppliers that are stable and have a proven track record. In addition, establishing quality protocols that meet or exceed industry standards should play a greater role in decision making,” Hurdle said.