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Fulgar
Fulgar
Avantex

6th April 2020, United States

3M caught between a rock and a hard place

©3M.©3M.

Adrian Wilson reports

Never before has an until-now niche nonwovens and converted products supply chain come under such intense pressure and scrutiny from on high, as the current demand and competition for N95 grade face masks rages worldwide.

On Saturday April 4th, during a press briefing from Washington, President Donald Trump issued a blistering attack on the company 3M.

“The people that have dealt with them have dealt successfully with many companies over the last month, and they don’t like the way 3M has treated our country,” Trump told reporters. “They don’t frankly like the representatives of 3M.”

3M had been under intense public pressure from Trump for continuing to supply face masks to other countries, and on Thursday April 2nd, he invoked the Federal Production Act – last used in the Korean War – giving his administration the right to use “any and all authority” to procure the protective equipment it needs.

3M, which is headquartered in Maplewood, Minnesota, with global manufacturing sites, issued a statement on Friday April 3rd saying that cutting off supplies of protective equipment to Canada and Latin America could cause a humanitarian crisis, to no avail.

Trump’s tirade capped an extraordinary week in which, on Tuesday March 31st, French President Emmanuel Macron toured a face-mask manufacturing plant and the following day, French and German officials accused the USA of using “wild west tactics” and a policy of “modern piracy” in a dispute over a face mask shipment from China.

3M, which is headquartered in Maplewood, Minnesota, with global manufacturing sites, issued a statement on Friday April 3rd saying that cutting off supplies of protective equipment to Canada and Latin America could cause a humanitarian crisis, to no avail.

Expansion

Even prior to Covid-19, 3M already produced around 1.1 billion face masks at its global sites annually – specifically the highly effective N95 respirator-type masks

At the end of March, however, the company put into motion additional investments and actions to enable it to increase its capacity once again, to 2 billion globally within 12 months – with some of that additional capacity beginning come online in 60-90 days.

In the USA, 3M said it expects to be producing N95 respirators at a rate of 50 million per month by June – a 40% increase from levels in March.

The company is prioritising and shipping products to serve the most urgent needs in the Covid-19 pandemic. In the US, more than 90% of 3M N95 respirators are going to healthcare and public health, with the remaining deployed to other critical industries such as energy, food and pharmaceuticals.

Of 3M’s US supply directed toward healthcare and public health, roughly 80% is reported to be flowing rapidly through healthcare distributors – primarily consisting of six large and well-known companies with huge logistical capabilities –as the quickest and most effective method of getting those supplies into the hands of workers.

www.3M.com

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