Not long after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020, retail shelves were emptied of essentials like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectants. Demand for cleaning supplies spiked to unprecedented levels and manufacturers struggled to meet the needs of consumers and businesses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even launched an expedited review process for disinfectants.
Fast forward to March 2021 and the supply chain was dealt yet another blow. One of the world’s largest ships became stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking a crucial waterway for six days and seven hours and creating a ripple effect on the supply chain. Everything from computer chips to chicken meat to alcohol were experiencing shortages.
Now, two years into the pandemic, organizations are facing even more strain on the supply chain. In addition to inventory shortages, long wait times and rising costs, there are now shortages in staffing.
Facility managers, who once operated behind the scenes in many ways, are now at the forefront of the supply chain crisis. Consequently, they are searching for more secure alternatives while trying to mitigate risks stemming from changing cleaning and disinfection methods.
The Best Supply Chain Has the Fewest Links
With industry experts seeing no clear end to systemic supply chain disruptions, exploring alternate solutions is wise. So, let’s start by looking at the ‘links’ in the supply chain:
- Raw Materials – The greater number of raw materials required, the more links in the chain and the more vulnerable the supply chain becomes.
- Manufacturing Processes – The greater number of processes and personnel required in manufacturing increases the number of vulnerable links in the supply chain.
- Logistics – The logistics of transporting and storing supplies greatly impacts the supply chain. Now, even traveling short distances is impacted by shortages of shipping personnel, especially drivers. Stockpiling supplies requires secure storage space and capital outlay.
- Proper Application – Product usage often requires staffing, training and additional supplies (such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and consumable materials) that can place further demand on the supply chain.
- Continuous Replenishment – Increased demand / consumption also increases the frequency of replenishment and drives up supply chain vulnerability. Furthermore, with the market volatility seen in the last two years, it is easy to end up on the wrong side of the supply and demand dynamic.
There are pressures on all these links in the supply chain. Therefore one clear strategy is to eliminate the link altogether by changing processes and/or procedures. For example, how would someone eliminate supply disruption of critical cleaning supplies?
A Different Way to Clean
Those responsible for cleaning and disinfection – whether at a school, commercial property, manufacturing or industrial facility – have found they can take control over certain parts of their supply chain with on-site generation (OSG) of electrochemically-activated solutions (ECAS).
Here is how it works: on-site generators create cleaner in one dispensing tank and disinfectant in a separate tank using three simple and readily available ingredients: water, salt and electricity. These generators are operated by the same personnel who perform cleaning and disinfection, so no additional staff is required to manage the transition to ECAS.
The solutions take the place of disposable disinfecting wipes and the many ready-to-use chemical bottles and containers that are used once, disposed of and then replaced. Not only does this eliminate the fragile link to supply chain providers, it also reduces a facilities environmental footprint.
These benefits can all be accomplished by installing an OSG and producing your own cleaner and disinfectants on-site:
- Readily available supply – Cleaning and disinfecting solutions are within easy reach, as the generator is located on site in a custodial closet or other storage area. Employees can quickly fill spray bottles, mop buckets and even floor scrubber machines with the products. If cleaning and disinfecting frequencies need to increase, you can simply ramp up production.
- Less reliance on shipments – With an OSG system, the only ingredient that you’ll need to potentially ship is the salt. This means you can eliminate shipments of heavy chemicals. Transporting these chemicals releases greenhouse gases, making ECAS a more environmentally responsible solution.
- Simplified storage – The centralized OSG system produces the cleaner and disinfectant. Two products meet all of your needs, so you can say goodbye to the days of needing specific solutions tailored to different surfaces like glass and steel. This frees up storage space for other essential supplies.
- Enhanced safety – ECAS are highly effective but do not contain the caustic ingredients that many conventional cleaning chemicals do. They are non-irritating to eyes and skin and safe for drains and disposals. Workers do not need PPE to clean and disinfect with ECAS. This alleviates staffing concerns related to safety because employees do not need to handle harmful chemicals or follow complex instructions for application and storage.
Change is Good
The complexity of the supply chain has forced facility managers to rethink their reliance on shipped solutions and seek out effective alternatives that can also help them improve safety and sustainability. There is no longer a need to use potentially hazardous cleaners that are rising in price, difficult to store, capable of causing injury to employees and customers and harmful to the environment. Facilities can also reduce reliance on other supplies like disposable wipes and potentially PPE.
As we enter this new era of clean, facility managers who take control of their supply will not only have fewer headaches, they’ll have more time to devote to meeting the heightened expectations that the public now demands when they enter any facility.
For more information about how PathoSans is helping businesses clean with care, contact me at Bill.Kohley@spray.com.
Bill Kohley, PhD, is President of PathoSans Technologies, a leading provider of on-site generation (OSG) devices that produce ready-to-use, highly effective cleaners and disinfectants known as electrochemically activated (ECA) solutions. Learn more at www.pathosans.com.