OMNIA Partners Blog

Pandemic Purchasing: Important Facility Reopening Measures

Posted by OMNIA Partners on June 17, 2020


Total Read Time: minutes

Now that businesses nationwide are opening in phased approaches and at varying degrees, it represents a necessary shift in supply chain planning and purchasing strategies for facilities

As we approach the end of the initial PPE purchasing surge procurement needs to shift focus to solutions for reopening, restoration, and prevention and what that potentially looks like for facilities and businesses long-term 

During this purchasing purview shift, procurement needs to decipher what the future facility means for their business. There are lots of terms being hurled in their direction, like MOBOTIX and contactless, each with their own unique requirements, specializations and layers of planning. 

For facilities to survive immense disruptions, like COVID-19, and come out stronger, procurement strategies will require balancing low-cost solutions and proactive planning. This balancing act will afford supply chains the ability to react to extreme market changes with agility. While the need for PPE based solutions will not go anywhere, there are solutions that facilities need to consider that have likely been taking a backseat during the Coronavirus crisis. 

 

“NUTS AND BOLTS” THAT RUN PRODUCTION

A crucial aspect of your facility is the “nuts and bolts” that keep your systems and equipment running efficiently. During disruption this key area has likely been deprioritized, but plays a critical role in your supply chain success. Facility managers need to take stock of their crucial inventory, what OEM products do you have in stock currently? How often do you need to replace these products for peak uptime? With that information facility managers can work in tandem with their procurement team to identify a product timeline of what will be needed at what volume and when. Procurement can use that data to proactively create their spend plan for shipping and logistics. There are pros and cons to both air freight and ocean freight in the current disruption, the further out purchasers are able to plan, the more likely they are to receive the right OEM product at the right time and at the right price. 


Related:

➡️ The GPO Role in Supply Chain Planning During a Crisis


 

FACILITY LAYOUT FOR SAFETY & PRODUCTIVITY  

As purchasers approach their facility workstations another challenge comes into play for new safety requirements. Procurement can aid facility managers in encouraging appropriate distance and safety measures, while also paying special attention to optimal efficiency through layout solution purchasing.  

Stakeholders will need to determine if the facility will continue to produce in the existing infrastructure or if there will be a redesign taking place. Procurement and facility managers need to ask themselves if the current layout will allow for optimal output and safety. Meaning, can the existing layout work with new safety protocols and policies or will the facility require a redesign for a more efficient and safer layout? Additionally, procurement will clearly need to consider operational expenses regardless of which route is chosen. 

A way to weigh the options will be to consider the various solutions that will be needed in the “future facility” and if those can be appropriately added into the current environment or not.  


Related:

➡️ How to Purchase for Workplace Distancing


Solution Considerations Should Include:  

  • Contactless sanitizer in high-traffic zones 
  • The RIGHT sanitizer per scenario, alcohol-based wipes are better for sensitive electronic equipment as it is fast-drying 
  • Periodic deep clean procedures and services  
  • PPE: including policies for appropriate disposal of used PPE  
  • Signage and facility floor markings to depict new workflows or areas of importance 
  • Door kickplates for high-traffic and common areas 
  • Common area cleaning and supplies  
  • Social barriers, sneeze guards and partition walls  
  • Lighting for increased visibility 
  • Safety zones  
  • Proper laundering for required uniforms  
  • Thermal thermometers  
  • And more, depending on the type of work at your facility 
     
PRO(curement) TIP 💡: With many changes occurring workers may feel unease about their return to the facility. Setting up training prior to reentry on the new cleaning and layout procedures can help ease their minds and encourage diligent compliance. If workers are complying, that will aid in mitigating future risks and possible expenses. 

 

AIR QUALITY & STOPPING THE SPREAD OF BACTERIA

Good indoor air quality (IAQ) is a large part of the overall health of a facility and its workers. Workers and visitors spend a vast amount of their day inside the facility breathing and working in this air. In the short-term poor air quality, during regular production times, can cause headaches, allergies, eye irritations, respiratory problems, frequent colds and sore throats, chronic cough, skin rashes, memory loss, dizziness and fatigue. The long-term effects could be even more dangerous, making IAQ an important portion of your facility reopening plan – and a key area for procurement teams to be locked in for what support might be needed.  

HVAC systems represent an easy area for bacteria to grow and spread, properly caring for and cleaning this system to improve IAQ will be critical to facility health upon return. The first step facility managers should take is visually inspecting all aspects of their system for build-up, dust, mold and other contaminants 

HVAC is key to stopping bacteria spread during COVID-19

New Equipment Digest prepared a list of the areas you should be paying the most attention to: 

  • Coils: Coils should be cleaned regularly. Without proper cleaning, air conditioning coils in the air handlers can become a hot spot for mold and mildew growth. Both of these are culprits for poor indoor air quality.  
  • Air Duct Cleaning: Since duct surfaces are typically hidden, they are easy to forget. This means they often accumulate dust, pollen, mold, and more, and this debris can collect on coils and recirculate into the air. There are several tools available for duct cleanings such as vacuums, agitation devices, and duct isolation equipment. 
  • Filters: Inspect and change all filters and consider moving to higher filtering levels (Merv 11 or more). Consult with your HVAC professional first, though, as increased filtering will impact airflow metrics and could negatively impact efficiency and lifespan of your equipment. 
  • Cooling Tower Cleaning: Cooling towers can also be a breeding ground for Legionella and other harmful bacteria. If a tower is infected with bacteria, it can spread to indoor air through ventilation and doorways/entrances and could impact the outdoor air quality in the surrounding area. Cleaning and sanitizing the cooling tower helps to prevent sediment, scale, and slime buildup, which can be cleaned with specialized cooling tower vacuums to avoid shutting down or draining the system. 
  • Cooling Tower Water Treatments: The outside air that is drawn into the tower can be contaminated with pollutants, which can increase bacterial growth. Chemical water treatments can protect against these issues and control the growth of harmful bacteria; however, they should be used in conjunction with mechanical cleaning methods. 


PRO(curement) TIP 💡: When systems have been off for a while, this can create a big challenge, especially in areas of high heat or humidity. Working with an HVAC supplier to aid in the full cleaning of these areas will ensure proper IAQ and employee safety.

 

ASSET MANAGEMENT & MAINTENANCE

Workers may not have been in your facility or using equipment at the standard rate during required shutdowns or quarantine; however, that does not mean these essential resources have not continued to decrease in lifespan or require less attention to maintain efficiency. Capital expenditure budgets are tighter than usual given the current economic landscape, meaning full ‘rip and replace’ activities are likely out of the question. While preventative maintenance has always represented a vital area in spend management, it should be gaining a higher, more detailed focus. 

If the CAPEX needed to replace assets does not exist, the only option for procurement is to extend the life of these essential resources through proactive planning. This will prove necessary and crucial as workers return to facilities. Workers are going to be asked to provide optimal productivity and uptime, that will require having the appropriate assets to perform at peak. Procurement should look at what assets remain critical to their productivity and the current remaining lifespan represented by each.  

 

PRO(curement) TIP 💡: Remember all assets, including floors and roofs, can represent spend loss when not properly maintained but are often overlooked. These assets are costly to replace due to the spend required for a project of this size but also the time commitment necessary in which your facility will not be operational. Downtime represents extreme revenue loss, so when considering assets that experience more use, higher-traffic, and extreme weather, prevention will be the more budget friendly option.


Once procurement has worked with facility managers to establish a detailed inventory of each required asset the next appropriate step will be prioritization based on age and remaining lifespan. Once a priority list has been established, reviewing the existing supplier network will become important. A collaborative and diverse supplier network will provide speedy solutions at beneficial rates for the priority asset list. If the current suppliers are not collaborative however, then another risk-free option would be working with a 
group purchasing organization (GPO). A GPO partner will extend the resources of procurement’s team to aid in identifying the right ecosystem and balance of suppliers and solutions to optimize for speed, efficiency and cost-containment. 

There are a lot of items to consider for equipment and employee health as facilities begin to reopen, it can be overwhelming to proactively purchase for these new needs. Procurement does not have to take this all on their own, your GPO is here to work as a part of your team and advocate on your behalf. By employing strategic partners, like your GPO, procurement can free up some of their time resources to dive into new critical purchases and proactive planning that will be required.  

Reference our continuously growing list of supplier partners and COVID-19 response solutions specifically curated for your needs during this time, or even better, contact your dedicated representative to immediately begin working on your facility’s customized reopening plan.  

GPOs Offer Critical Support for COVID-19 Purchasing

Topics: Facilities, Group Purchasing Organization, Procurement, Emergency Situations, spend management

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