itel PPE kit

Preventing the spread of infections and diseases has mattered like never before. As such, sourcing PPE could be the difference between keeping your business open or having to shut. The unprecedented global demand for PPE has undoubtedly placed a strain on the market and on businesses who need it to operate. If you’re stuck, or in need of some pointers, here’s what we recommend…

Decide what you really need

This sounds obvious, but in a market that is currently prone to dwindling stock and fluctuating prices, pinpointing your requirement saves time and cost. A thorough inventory of what you need, including spec, standards, quantities and adherence to guidelines can help identify suppliers, stock and best prices.

Check standards, certificates and compliance

As soon as there was a shortage of PPE, sub-standard goods flooded the market from new suppliers. To say some were opportunistic is an understatement. A lot of products that entered the market were found to be non-compliant with UK standards, posing a risk to the wearer. There was also evidence of false documentation, and fake or incorrect CE markings. When sourcing from a new supplier, ask for a CE certificate and a Declaration of Conformity. These two documents demonstrate that the products you’re supplying are compliant. If you’re not sure the documents are genuine, you can contact the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF).

Do your due diligence

The global pandemic spawned a host of fraudsters. Everything from quality, quantity and delivery times, to vendors selling non-existent items or taking offers on stock already bought and paid for by another company. Be aware and be mindful of such practices. If a supplier’s promises sound too good to be true, they are. According to CIPs, some telltale signs include a demand for high up-front fees, sketchy admin practices and procedures, and a lack of documentation and certificates. In short, do your research into a company and do your due diligence to mitigate any risks.

Diversify your supply chain

Beware the second coming. If the UK, or any other country has a major second spike of COVID-19, stock piling and stock shortages could become an issue again. To that end, diversify your supply chain and have a contingency plan in place. The greater choice you have and the more options available to you, the better your chances of not running low or running out of critical items. Be sure to benchmark prices because they will fluctuate wildly if demand increases. Also, make sure your suppliers know exactly what you need in terms of quality and quantity.

Use analytics to predict and forecast spikes in demand

The pandemic caused unprecedented demand for PPE. This caused major disruptions in the manufacturing, supply and distribution of PPE products – which is a major risk factor for organisations that are reliant on them to carry out their daily work. One way to mitigate this risk is to use data to analyse your daily, weekly and monthly demands. From there, you can highlight a shortlist of critical and low risk items. You can use that information to make a three to six-month forecast, and to monitor the market and buy ahead of time.

Final thoughts

These are challenging circumstances for every business and challenging times for the PPE market. To make sure your business stays operational, plan how, when and where you’ll source your PPE, remembering to:

• Specify only what you need to save time and cost
• Keep an eye out for quality to keep you staff and customers safe
• Research your suppliers to ensure they’ll supply what you need
• Diversify your supply chain to mitigate supply risks
• Forecast demand by using analytics

For more help and information on sourcing PPE, visit itelgroup.co.uk