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U.S. automakers are scrambling to see if they can orchestrate makeshift manufacturing of ventilators in as early as two weeks.
Automakers have 3-D printers and the technical expertise to use them to make components. They have “clean rooms” in some plants that could be elevated to meet Food and Drug Administration standards, and Tyvek suits used in paint shops that could be re-purposed, Bloomberg reported.
With the Defense Production Act, President Trump could order the U.S. private sector to marshal its resources to attack the scarcity and provide financing via government contracts. There has been confusion about whether the president has actually done so via recent tweets.
For now, Trump said at a Sunday press conference, companies are responding without having to be forced.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders want to ramp up coronavirus testing, but providers of the diagnostics can’t make enough kits to keep up with demand.
The U.K. will soon be testing 25,000 people a day for the virus, Johnson said at a press conference Thursday, and that could eventually rise to 250,000.
Qiagen NV, which makes its own testing kits as well as the components others need for theirs, is having to ration clients while it works to ramp up production as much as 80% in two months. Roche Holding AG’s new high-speed tool that can spew out more than 4,000 results a day is going to places most in need — but not to every lab that could benefit from having it.
Intel is managing to maintain an above 90% on-time delivery of its products from factories worldwide — with manufacturing and supply-chain operations still running in Oregon, New Mexico, California and Arizona, Israel, Ireland, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and other partner locations around the world, the world’s biggest chipmaker says.
Intel’s products are essential components of personal computers and the server machines that run corporate networks and the internet. Continued output from its factories is a vital part of the global supply chain as the technology industry scrambles to deal with the effects of the pandemic.
Semiconductor plants are some of the most automated facilities in the world and require very little human involvement directly in the manufacturing process.
The Santa Clara, California-based company has been trying to increase its output to meet customer demand for more than a year after struggling with the introduction of a new advanced technique. It had planned to improve output this year to accumulate inventory and make sure all its customers were served. Companies such as Dell Technologies Inc. have complained that processor shortages have hurt their earnings.
American Airlines is deploying passenger aircraft grounded by the coronavirus outbreak to move cargo between the U.S. and Europe.
According to the airline, the first cargo-only flight will depart Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on March 20, landing at Frankfurt Airport the following day. The Boeing 777-300 will fly two roundtrips between DFW and FRA over a period of four days, carrying only cargo and necessary flight crew.
“Challenging times call for creative solutions, and a team of people across the airline has been working nonstop to arrange cargo-only flight options for our customers,” said Rick Elieson, president of cargo and vice president of international operations.
American hasn’t operated a cargo-only flight since 1984, when it retired the last of its fleet of Boeing 747 freighters.
Truckers are raising alarms about growing operational challenges from restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Efforts to hold back the spread are reaching truck stops and loading docks, The Wall Street Journal reports, adding hurdles for truck drivers racing to meet surging demand for consumer staples and medical equipment.
One operator says some customers are restricting movements of truckers at their facilities, and Pennsylvania recently closed rest stops that provide significant parking space for truckers in critical logistics corridors. Federal highway regulators are trying to provide more capacity by expanding a suspension of hours-of-service driving limits for critical goods, extending the waiver to carriers of fuel and some raw materials.
Detroit car companies have agreed to temporarily shut down factories in the U.S. to protect workers, The Wall Street Journal reports, in an unprecedented work stoppage that will affect more than 150,000 factory employees.
Ford Motor Co. is suspending factory work at its plants in North America for 11 days to clean facilities and develop other preventive measures, and General Motors Corp. is taking similar steps. Honda Motor Co. is also closing all its North American plants for six days to respond to coronavirus concerns.
The port of Fuzhou in eastern China is restricting vessels arriving from nine countries including the U.S. and Singapore in efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus by visiting ships and their crew.
Vessels arriving from Japan, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the U.S., and Singapore won’t be allowed entry into the port until they’ve completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine, according to Bloomberg. The countdown begins when ships depart from those nations.
Fuzhou’s port is the world’s 47th busiest, handling 3.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2018, according to the World Shipping Council.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday giving the federal government broad powers to direct the production and distribution of health protective gear, ventilators and other supplies if the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. gets far worse.
As part of an emergency measure, the executive order lets U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar take priority over private contracts and agreements. The department could also get control over how needed health-care goods are distributed.
It’s not clear how extensively the government would use the powers outlined in the broadly-written order, or whether companies would start legal objections if they disagreed. In a tweet following the signing of the order, Trump said it would be used for a “worst-case scenario,” and hopefully wouldn’t be needed.
The White House cited the Defense Production Act of 1950, which gives the government authority to allocate private resources in a national crisis, as the legal basis for the new authority.
President Trump announced today that the border between the U.S. and Canada will be temporarily closed to “non-essential” travel, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The action is being taken under “mutual consent” by the two countries. However, the President added in a tweet, trade will not be affected, and goods will continue to be allowed to cross in both directions. “Details to follow!” he tweeted.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced restrictions on the entry into Canada of non-citizens, except for those from the U.S.
The broad shutdown of American commerce and social life has put the nation’s blood supply under stress it’s never before seen, blood-center directors say. The centers are urging people to make appointments to donate after the typical venues for drives — schools, colleges, workplaces and houses of worship — have closed.
About 4,000 blood drives scheduled for March, April and May have been canceled, reducing projected supply by 130,000 donations, according to Bloomberg. A March 13 Congressional Research Service report warned the outbreak “may pose significant challenges” to the U.S. blood supply.
Officials say respiratory viruses don’t spread through blood, and blood centers hope getting the word out to donors that giving is safe will replenish stocks. The industry usually handles local shortages by moving supplies around, but the current drop in donations has affected inventory nationwide. The shortfall exposes another vulnerability in the complex supply chains that keep the medical system working.
Europe’s biggest industrial manufacturers from Volkswagen AG and Airbus SE to Daimler AG are taking unprecedented steps to idle plants across the region.
VW, the world’s largest automaker, joined a host of rivals and suppliers on Tuesday in suspending output across its European factories as a synchronized halt not seen in decades gained momentum. Airbus, the biggest planemaker, will shutter production at sites in France and Spain for four days to clean floor stations and separate workers, while Daimler is halting most of its output in Europe for at least two weeks.
Meat companies are ramping up processing to help restock coolers that are being emptied by Americans on edge.
Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat processor, is making its “most-significant shift” ever to produce more chicken, beef and pork that’s favored by supermarket shoppers, rather than cuts that restaurants use. Employees are working through weekends to fill as many orders as possible.
Sanderson Farms Inc. said it is adding Saturday shifts at its five plants that process chicken for grocery-store customers, and is ready to convert two other plants to process more such birds. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Perdue Farms Inc. are also working to accommodate the boom in retail demand.
Amazon said independent merchants would be unable to ship products other than medical supplies, household staples and other high-demand products to its warehouses until April 5 as the e-commerce giant prioritizes the delivery of these goods.
Delta Air Lines Inc. is offering some of its idled passenger aircraft to the cargo charter market, as the carrier seeks new revenue sources after pulling down a swath of flights because of plummeting travel demand. The airline will make available jets at 13 U.S. airports and 70 sites outside the country.
Delta said last week that it is cutting about 40% of its flights over the next few months, joining an array of airlines that are pulling back operations as governments restrict travel and customer demand falls.
Container lines are canceling surcharges for refrigerated shipments destined for China as congestion caused by the coronavirus impact eases.
The surcharges came after business slowdown in China last month caused a pile up of refrigerated containers at major ports across the country — and shortage of power and staff to monitor them. The situation has since been normalizing.
The Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport will remain open during the COVID-19 outbreak, despite a “shelter-in-place” order requiring the closing of all businesses in six Bay Area counties that do not provide essential services.
The port said both facilities are considered essential services, and are therefore exempt from the order.
The Port of Oakland is among the 10 busiest containerports in the U.S., handling more than 2.5 million cargo containers annually. Oakland International Airport serves 14 million passengers a year.
“Our operations are critical to the health, safety, infrastructure and economy of our region,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “We will continue to function as a vital gateway for global trade and transportation while doing everything possible to protect our employees, customers and business partners.”
Amazon.com Inc. will hire 100,000 people — and give U.S. workers a $2 an hour raise in an effort to meet crushing demand from customers placing online orders for household essentials rather than going to crowded stores, Bloomberg reported.
Amazon has had difficulty meeting demand triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. The company warned customers March 2 that orders were backlogged since demand outstripped its delivery capacity, and a technical glitch on Sunday further delayed orders from Whole Foods Markets and other Amazon services.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world in a way that very few can—delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them,” Amazon executive Dave Clark said Monday in a blog post. “Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues. We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year.”
With hundreds dying every day, Europe’s governments are racing to stock up on ventilators, which can save patients with acute cases of COVID-19. The German government last week ordered 10,000 ventilators from Drägerwerk AG, worth roughly a year’s production. Italy is tendering for a total of 5,000 ventilators — at least 150 of which are on their way from China.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged British manufacturers across sectors to help with production of ventilators and other medical equipment.
A Tennessee man and Amazon seller has donated 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer — just as the Tennessee attorney general’s office began investigating him for price gouging.
U.S. grocers are changing some of their fundamental operations as coronavirus stockpiling threatens to overwhelm their supply chains. Retailers including Kroger Co., Publix Super Markets Inc. and Walmart Inc. are shortening store hours to give workers more time to restock and disinfect their sites. The Wall Street Journal reports the businesses are grappling with stronger-than-anticipated shopping surges and that contingency plans developed for natural disasters are running up against a nationwide emergency.
U.S. trade officials removed tariffs on dozens of medical items imported from China amid the coronavirus crisis — including some protective gowns, exam gloves, patient bags, surgical drapes and medical waste disposal bags. Officials had previously ruled that these items couldn’t get exemptions.
A nationwide run on hand sanitizer is testing manufacturers’ capacity to flex up production. Sales declined 4.5% last year, and the sudden swing in demand as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. is challenging suppliers, The Wall Street Journal reports, as factories staff up to boost output of the federally-regulated product. California-based EO Products is running extra shifts and converting factory lines designed for other products to make hand sanitizer, a switch-over that will drag on margins.
As supply chains showed signs of strain, U.S. highway safety regulators suspended limits on daily driving hours for truckers moving emergency supplies in response to the pandemic.
Cargo operators are ramping up charter services as passenger flight cancellations limit airfreight capacity, with several services announcing new routes for shippers scrambling for space.
Canceled conventions are weighing on special-events trucking companies, as more conferences, exhibitions and music events continue to be canceled or postponed across the U.K. and Europe.