The Challenges of Making N95 Masks

The Challenges of Making N95 Masks

Why can’t we produce N95 masks fast enough?

As the US faces shortages of N95 masks, this article highlights the challenges of producing them. China, a country that has ramped up production for itself and for the world, has had to overcome major obstacles even with huge government subsidies and help from regulators. Problems ranging from material shortages to building machines threaten the conversion of existing capacity to mask manufacturing.


Video Spotlight: How China Can Produce 200 Million Masks a Day


This post is based on the npr.org article, COVID-19 Has Caused a Shortage of Face Masks. But They’re Surprisingly Hard to Make, by E. Feng and A. Cheng, March 16, 2020, and the YouTube video, Inside China’s Biggest Mask Factory, by Goldthread, March 19, 2020. Image source: ERProductions Ltd/Blend Images LLC.

Discussion Questions:

1. What problems do manufacturers face when they repurpose their facilities for the production of masks?

Guidance: Manufacturers have to overcome their lack of expertise in making new components, set up operations in sterile environments, buy used or new machines, purchase specialized materials in short supply or set up production lines for those materials, experience delivery delays, and train existing and new Continue reading

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Global Auto Supply Chain Disruptions

Global Auto Supply Chain Disruptions

April 3, 2020

Automakers around the globe are faced with supply chain disruptions from COVID-19 that could cause production stoppages and millions or billions in lost production.

The car industry is particularly at risk for shortages because automakers tend to keep  low levels of costly inventory, relying heavily on the just-in-time arrival of parts.  The pain was first felt by automakers in Japan and South Korea, as Chinese-based parts suppliers were shut down by the coronavirus outbreak.

Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, and GM all experienced temporary shutdowns.  Europe is now facing similar problems, and U.S. manufacturers are bracing themselves and putting contingency plans in place.


Video Spotlight: Coronavirus hurts global auto industry (Feb 21, 2020, Newsy)


This post is based on the CNBC article, Automakers are ‘scrambling’ for parts and preparing war rooms as coronavirus spreads, by Michael Wayland, February 29, 2020, and the YouTube video featured in the Video Spotlight. Image source: Cultura / Image Source.

Discussion Questions:

1. What specific supply chain disruptions and solutions have been faced thus far?

Guidance: Recently one car manufacturer ran short of brake pads because of a Chinese supplier hit by coronavirus problems.  In this case, Continue reading

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