27 Oct 2021

Quest Safety Products is expanding its product line to include more products for controlled environments, sterile environments, and cleanrooms, focusing on the product lines below. Quest is proud to have 11 of the top pharmaceutical companies as customers and this addition helps us provide them with a more complete product line.

Quest’s Territory Managers’ have been through hours of training on PPE. We, along with our supplier partners, are ready to work with your Industrial Hygienists to find the right garments to fit your ISO classification, possible hazards, and exposure levels. We have also created a catalog devoted to PPE for controlled environments. Let’s discuss your garmenting needs or issues and together we’ll find the right solution. Our initial focus has been on product lines from DuPont, Ansell, and Lakeland. We can also source from other manufacturers as needed by our customers.  

The First Step is Understanding Your Controlled Environments

The term Controlled Environment, sometimes also referred to as critical environments, is an overarching term for areas that are extremely regulated in terms of how the room is designed and equipped, what type of work is done in the room, and how employees work within them.   

All Controlled Environments control temperature, pressure, and are separated from other areas within the facility. Some controlled environments also control humidity. 

There are two types of controlled environments that require special personal protective equipment: cleanrooms and sterile environments.

Cleanrooms are highly controlled indoor environments. Similar to controlled environments, the temperature, humidity, and pressure are controlled to required levels. The air entering the clean environment is filtered by air handling units usually equipped with HEPA filters. What differentiates cleanrooms is the regulation of particulates (dust, airborne organisms, or vaporized particles) in the air per cubic meter. The US General Service Administration’s ISO 14644-1 system classifies clean rooms into nine classes depending on the industry requirements.

Workers in these rooms are required to wear PPE that are clean-manufactured at a minimum. This is why it is key to work with PPE manufacturers and distributors who understand cleanroom requirements.


Our partner, Lakeland highlights the importance of clean-manufactured garments well: 

A clean-manufactured garment is sewn and constructed in a controlled, clean-manufacturing environment. A clean-manufacturing facility ensures that:

  • All of the assembly operators are trained in good cleanroom hygiene and clean manufacturing principles.
  • Each employee is gowned in the class appropriate cleanroom apparel.
  • Work surfaces are disinfected and wiped clean at predetermined intervals throughout production.

Most importantly, a clean-manufacturing facility ensures that operators are not adding any particulates onto the garments during the construction and manufacturing process.


Cleanrooms are used for manufacturing products such as electronics, pharmaceutical, and medical equipment. 

Sterile Environments require all the controls of controlled environments and go one step further. Sterile environments must be completely free of bacteria and microorganism. Employers must use PPE that has undergone a sterilization process. This is another case where knowing your PPE manufacturer and distributor can help determine your success in meeting specific regulations.

Such environments are usually required for very specific tasks such as pharmaceutical manufacturing. 


For additional information on Clean vs Sterile Garments, check out Lakeland’s article Clean vs Sterile Manufacturing: Why it Matters for Your Cleanroom Apparel


Why Is PPE So Critical For These Environments?

PPE is key in controlled environments to protect the products, workers, and facilities. 

Per OSHA, protective head, foot, and body coverings are required in a cleanroom to reduce particulate contamination. In cleanroom and sterile environments, about 80 percent of the impurities come from people. This includes skin flaking, microbes, hair, textile fibers, and dust which can cause serious problems.

In addition, employees must wear the required PPE to protect them from the materials and processes used. Protective clothing is the most important PPE for controlled environments. In addition to protective garments there is eye protection, face masks and shields, as well the appropriate gloves made specifically for controlled environments. In some cases respiratory protection may be required – remember that respirator use requires special medical qualification, fit testing, and training.

OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910, more commonly known as the General Industry Standard, outlines a variety of cleanroom requirements and dictates that employers must provide PPE for the eyes, face, head, and extremities. Whether reusable or disposable, these must be used and maintained in sanitary and reliable conditions.

WE’RE PREPARED TO HELP

We understand that cleanroom garment classification alone is complicated:

  • Clean / Sterile
  • Clean / Non-Sterile
  • Non-Clean / Sterile
  • Non-Clean / Non-Sterile

Additionally, there are numerous garment styles, autoclavable options, and packaging choices. All of these PPE garment features are determined by the type of controlled environment your team works in. We’re here to help you find what products are available to fit your needs.  

Check out our Controlled Environment Catalog. We’ve designed the catalog to focus on the type of garment and the coverage needed to help you find products easily. The contents page is shown here.

You can access the Quest Controlled Environment Catalog here.

03 Sep 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every aspect of life in 2020, with supply chain problems becoming a primary challenge for businesses across the globe. Interos, an AI-powered risk management platform, conducted a study in October 2020. They found that “more than 90% of companies expect the disruption of global supply chains caused by the pandemic will have long-lasting effects on their businesses, and nearly 98% of senior decision-makers in the United States alone believe that their organization’s supply chain has already been disrupted.” 

The senior decision-makers included in the study noted challenges with demand reduction, shortages, price swings, and various other issues across their supply chains courtesy of COVID-19. Moreover, of the 450 senior-level personnel, 90% feared that these issues would continue with future waves of infection.

Today, the primary change is that companies are now experiencing higher demand in addition to all of the other issues. Moreover, we now know that these challenges won’t be going away any time soon. So now is the time for businesses to focus on building resilience into every aspect of their value chains.

It’s no secret that, right now, supply chains are a mess regardless of the pandemic. Businesses have seen nearly every disruption possible, from container shortages to bad weather and even a blockage in the Suez Canal. The way companies have managed to persevere and deliver to customers despite these issues is nothing short of inspirational. But, for many, it was an uphill battle every step of the way. Now Delta is adding more variation in an already volatile mix of circumstances, and these imbalances are expected to continue for another year at minimum.

Luckily, experts at PwC, Deloitte, The Wall Street Journal, and Supply Chain Consultants have been studying and working to uncover reliable ways to manage these ongoing disruptions effectively. It’s up to individual businesses to determine the right mix of resilience to build into their strategies, but all should focus on building it comprehensively into all areas of the company to minimize volatility.

Quest has put together an eBook outlining these recommendations to help you regain more control over your value chain. For example, resetting operations with greater digital capabilities and renewing logistics operating models can improve efficiency and effectiveness. Check out the eBook for more detailed information on how to boost your supply chain’s resilience despite persistent industry disruptions.

16 Jul 2021

Ensuring you have the critical supplies needed to keep your operation running smoothly can be a complicated and costly process. Some suppliers can’t guarantee they will have the required quantity you need when you need it. There are ways to ensure you have the supplies you need without investing in additional warehouse space and employees to manage the process. 

With 20+ years of experience working with pharmaceutical and life science companies, Quest Safety Products has built an effective process to meet critical supply needs without the costly overhead. We are currently doing this for a number of Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies, enabling them to reinvest the money they’d normally spend on warehouse space and additional inventory back into their core business. 

Download our eBook to get an inside look at the steps we take to manage the supply chain for our customers’ critical products. We’ve also included two case studies that highlight how our unique approach works and the benefits provided to our customers. 

Download the eBook 

If you would like to learn more about our supply chain process or discuss possible solutions for your company, please reach out to Mark Towner, our VP of Sales.

04 Jun 2021

COVID-19 underscored the global supply chain’s fragile nature and the need to develop a more resilient infrastructure to avoid critical shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE),sanitizers, ventilators, drugs and other products.

  • Many factories closed temporarily, this is now continuing as COVID outbreaks persist.
  • A large numbers of containers, estimated to be as high as 60%, were stranded in-transit, made worse with a reduction in ships-at-sea. This is staggering as the China to USA trade route uses on average 900,000 containers per month.
  • Asian nations declared lockdowns and stopped exports to ensure their own supply.
  • Combined with the shortage of containers is the doubling of lead times to 6-9 months for many items.
  • JIT inventory holding made the problems even worse.
  • New manufacturers could not scale-up quickly and many did not have the experience needed to make quality PPE.

Rising Container Cost & Extended Lead Times

Reviving the extended supply chains from Asia, especially China, is taking time and it is evident that the transpacific volume from Asia headed stateside is not slowing (according to Descartes Datamyne). The single biggest factor appears to be stranded containers from various lockdowns and governmental restrictions. Freight shipping is in the midst of a unique and unusual predicament that includes soaring demand, saturated ports, and too few available ships, dockworkers and truckers. No short-term fixes are in sight.


Container costs are already up over 2x pre-COVID and are expected to rise further. This is resulting in price increases. A fully loaded container from China to the USA was just below $6000 pre-COVID. It is rising to nearly $14000. To make matters worse, the lead time for some imports has more than doubled, going to 6-9 months.

Supply is Constrained

The supply situation is made severe by the heightened demand from the Health Care segment. Some
key findings by Becker’s Hospital Review are:
Disposable gloves

  • Availability of exam gloves is expected to be constrained into 2023.
  • Global demand for nitrile exam gloves exceeds production capacity by about 215 billion units, or about 40 percent.
  • Shortages have been exacerbated by raw material scarcity, port closures and delays, and a twofold increase in usage since June 2020.
  • Spending on Gloves rose 250 percent between November 2020 and March 2021.

N95 masks 

  • As COVID-19 cases drove a surge in demand for N95 masks during the first wave of the pandemic.  One year later, the N95 market is still constrained, but not in active shortage.
  • 3M has dramatically increased production.

Surgical & isolation masks 

  • Usage of surgical and isolation masks tripled between June 2020 and March 2021.
  • By February 2021, surgical mask spend was about 100 percent higher than February 2020. 

Protective Clothing

  • When manufacturers began prioritizing N95s and other masks, isolation gown supply compressed.
  • Isolation gowns surpassed N95 masks as the top PPE shortage concern by mid-April 2020, with 74 percent of health systems saying gowns were their top concern.
  • Gown purchasing was up about 100 percent in February and March this year compared to February 2020. 

Costs Still Well Above Pre-COVID Levels

There were exponential cost increases in PPE last year, especially on products going to the Health Care segment like gloves, gowns and masks.

Some have rolled back, but many are still well above pre-COVID levels. Nitrile gloves, in particular, are still nearly 70% above 2019 and expected to potentially increase further (as forecasted by Ansell in a May 20201 Market Updated). Fact.MR summed it as: “Sky-high demand for nitrile disposable gloves from the medical sector is aiding manufacturers, while initiatives undertaken by private and government organizations are spurring the growth of the market”. Protective clothing (+17%) and shoe covers (+15%) are still high. N95 masks have fallen back with the dramatic increase in manufacturing by 3M.

The World Health Organization has warned that “severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus outbreaks and other infectious diseases”.

Be Careful with Alternate Sources

Many new manufactures emerged in 2020 – especially those with capabilities to manufacture similar products switching to PPE. They were trying to help in a difficult situation. However, there have been cases where such products that do not meet OSHA requirements and even outright fraud. Both Ansell and 3M have issued warnings and guidelines – especially on disposable gloves and N95 respirators. 

Steps for “Next Time” 

A lot has been written about key lessons learnt and steps to take for “the next time”. Four actions stand out for companies to seriously include in their planning for the future.

Below is a similar note by the American Health Association on steps to take to strengthen the supply infrastructure in the medical field.

4 Steps to a Stronger Supply Infrastructure By The American Health Association

1. Coordinate the Response to Offers for Help

Many hospitals and health systems were flooded with calls, emails and other inquiries about PPE needs as the pandemic unfolded. Some messages reached the supply team, others didn’t. This underscores the need for purchasing or another department to be the single point of contact for coordinating with alternative suppliers and donors.

2. Vet Equipment Designs to Ensure Quality

Food and Drug Administration approval processes that certify the designs and production processes of products and emergency use authorizations allowed nontraditional suppliers to produce low-risk PPE. Quality control became an issue as some products from these sources proved to be ineffective, uncomfortable or unsafe. Digital platforms for aggregating, documenting and vetting medical supply designs can help. Open Source Medical Supplies, a collaborative between manufacturers and physicians, was launched last March to aid in this effort. The group has created a library of nearly 200 open-source designs for PPE and medical devices. These designs are vetted by medical advisers, and a volunteer community offers input on improving designs for safety.

3. Develop Alternative Suppliers before They’re Needed

Identifying and forging relationships now with alternative suppliers, and adding these sources to approved vendor lists will allow provider organizations to move quickly during emergencies. To jump-start this effort, the AHA’s Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management website provides a wealth of tools, including a list of more than 400 vetted and approved nontraditional suppliers offering PPE and other supplies and services.

4. Test Supply Chain Availability

As part of emergency preparedness drills, include the potential for large-scale supplier disruption and determine which existing and alternative suppliers the organization can turn to when product shortages begin to surface.

Here at Quest Safety Products, we are working hard to stay ahead of supply chain issues to avoid passing the rising transportation costs off to our customers. If you are looking to diversify your supply chain with a secondary supplier, Quest is experienced in managing the Supplier Change Process to ensure a smooth addition. If this is something your organization is working though, we are here to help.

 

 

Single-Use versus Reusable Garments: Which Provides Better Protection?

Did you know the highest causes of contamination in controlled environments are from the people who work there? This means the right garments are critical. While it may seem like the best option would be reusable garments since they are made using more substantial material that can be washed repeatedly, it turns out the sterilization process may cause them to deteriorate over time, leading to lower bacterial efficiency than their disposable counterparts.

With this in mind, Quest recommends replacing reusable garments with disposable ones for the following reasons:

Ultimate Protection
With each laundering and sterilization, the air permeability, bacteria barrier, and tear strength efficiency of reusable garments is reduced and particle shedding is increased. Disposable apparel arrives clean, hygienically packaged, and ready to use.

Consistent Quality
Disposable garments provide more uniform and dependable protection every single time. The quality of reusable garments is inconsistent. You never know what the protection level is, depending on where they are in their lifecycle

Peace of Mind
With disposal garments you know exactly what level of protection your employees are getting every time they don garments. Inventory and usage costs are easy to predict and manage over time

Click on the image to download our helpful graphic on reasons to choose disposable over reusable garments.

Don’t just take our word for it. The proof is in the data. Our partners at DuPont shared a video where they put reusable garments to the test. They conducted testing by laundering and sterilizing two new,        reusable garments for 30 cycles and examined how well they held up. Here’s what they found.

Test #1: Air Permeability and Barrier on Reusable Garments
After 20 cycles, air permeability increased 5X (garment A) to 8X (garment B) based on the Frayser Air Permeability Test. This shows that garments become less airtight and less effective at bacterial filtration over time.

Test #2: Particle Shedding of Reusable Garments
After 30 cycles, there was a noticeable increase in particle shedding on fabric swatches cut from the tested reusable garments.

Test #3: Tear Strength
The tear strength of fabric cut from reusable polyester garments steadily decreased with each cycle. After 30 cycles, the tear strength dropped by 60%.

The takeaway? Single use garments provide more uniform and dependable protection, with consistent quality. Plus with single-use garments, both inventory and usage costs are easier to predict and manage over time. Taken all together, choosing disposable garments results in greater peace of mind when it comes to keeping your facilities contaminant free and running smoothly.

15 Dec 2020

5 Benefits Your Vendor-Managed Inventory Partner Should Provide

 

The goal of a solid Vendor Management Inventory (VMI) program is to provide a mutually beneficial partnership between a supplier and its customer to ensure a smooth and accurate flow of goods between the two organizations. At Quest, we handle the complex challenges of inventory planning for customers operating in highly structured industries such as pharma and life sciences, where stocking levels can impact the bottom line.

At a time when keeping your workers, facilities, and products safe means ensuring you have the inventory you need to stay operational, partnering with a trusted VMI team can be a powerful tool in making sure your workers have what they need when they need it. To help make sure you are getting the most out of your VMI program, we are sharing five key benefits your Vendor-Managed Inventory partner should provide.

1. Increased Service Tailored to Your Unique Needs
A solid VMI program should always ensure you have no more and no less than what is absolutely needed to have onsite. When we kickoff a new VMI partnership here at Quest, we assign a VMI Specialist who is focused on a customer’s most important product and stocking needs. Rather than taking control away from the customer, we work together to analyze monthly usage needs to determine minimum and maximum inventory levels.

2. Improved Operational Efficiencies
The main benefit of VMI is to help your business run smoother and operate more efficiently. This can mean different levels of service for different organizations. At Quest, we can have VMI specialists perform inventory counts and deliveries each week, or we can have a specialist located onsite at all times. With part-time and full-time VMI, customers can focus their employees’ efforts on the work that generates company revenue. Additionally, VMI teams can help identify issues such as product expiration dates, tracking lot numbers, and managing important paperwork such as Certificate of Conformity.

3. Reduced Inventory Overstocks & Stock Shortages
VMI removes the need for the customer to have significant backup stock because the vendor manages the resupply lead times. Lower inventories for the customer can translate to significant cost savings.

Quest’s VMI team stocks and tracks customer inventory to ensure they have the products they need when they need them. Many times VMI teams are used in time-sensitive industries that also have regulatory demands. A pharmaceutical manufacturing production line running out of supplies can cause that line to shut down temporarily, costing the company tens of thousands of dollars. A strong VMI team ensures that doesn’t happen.

4. Onsite Technical Expertise
Working with a VMI specialist who understands your business is key. Quest carefully assigns a team specifically trained to work within your industry. This way, you can be sure the VMI team understands the requirements of your business, the timeframes you work under, and how product stocking affects your employees, products, and bottom line. If a problem arises with a product, VMI specialists with technical experience understand possible implications and can react quickly to offer various solutions.

5. Financial Transparency
Your vendor’s Sales and VMI team should be meeting with you regularly so you are aware of what stock is being used in your company and how much of it. They can also help explain why product changes were made by your safety managers or industrial hygienists. Quest performs site-specific reporting and spend usage that allows our customers to make better-informed business decisions and eliminate wasteful, non-value adding factors and other costs associated with inventory errors.

Better communication, inventory accuracy, forecasting and overall service are all possible through VMI. A good VMI partnership should create a service that has considered all aspects of the supply chain and any areas for concern so that the customer can focus on what they do rather than making sure they have the supplies they need to safely do it. To get the most out of a VMI program, be sure to work with a vendor that has experience in your industry. Your vendor should always have their finger on the pulse so when it’s time to source new or additional items, they have you covered. If you’re interested in learning how VMI can keep your business operating smoothly, our team can help.

How Quest is Minimizing the Impact of Rising PPE Prices and Supply Chain Shortages

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for single-use gloves and garments so dramatically, manufacturers are struggling to keep up. As we move into winter and face a surging positivity rate across the US, the gap between supply and demand will continue to grow.

The result will be higher costs driven by:

A high global demand that has tripled due to more stringent protocols in healthcare and frontline workers as well as governments stockpiling PPE across the globe.

A limited global supply due to a lack of manufacturing capabilities. Manufacturers typically produce 370 billion gloves a year, but an estimated 585 billion gloves are needed to meet global demand.

A shortage of raw materials—specifically anything made with polypropylene material—is driving up costs by 30%-50% and is expected to continue to rise.

An increase in production costs as manufacturers struggle to attract workers due to labor shortages, quarantines, and the cost of keeping workers safe. Additionally, distribution and logistics costs are increasing.

Quest Safety Products has developed a deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry’s needs and requirements through technical training and decades of experience. This enables Quest to be hyper-focused on what impacts pharmaceutical customers at this time and source high-quality PPE alternatives during recent supply chain outages.

Learn how Quest is working to minimize the impact of rising PPE prices and supply chain shortages so you can keep your workers safe. Read more.

14 Feb 2020

Quest Safety Product Inc. Successfully Completes PSCI Audit

Removing Barriers to Business for All Customers

Quest Safety Products’ audit report has been posted to the PSCI (Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative) membership page and can be reviewed by all PSCI member companies. 

The Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative (PSCI) is a group of pharmaceutical companies with a vision to establish and promote responsible business practices that will continuously improve social, health & safety and environmental sustainable outcomes for their supply chains throughout the world. 40 of the top companies in the pharmaceutical industry are members of this initiative.

PSCI’s mission is to establish formal industry guidelines regarding ethics, labor, health & safety, the environment, and management systems, as well as support suppliers to build their capabilities to operate in a manner consistent with those expectations. For additional details on PSCI visit their website or view their introductory video.

How PSCI's Audit Benefits All Quest Customers

Successfully completing PSCI's audit removes a barrier to business for Quest Safety and all its customers and prospects. PSCI's standards were established because of the regions in which they operate and the life-altering work involved in manufacturing pharmaceuticals. PSCI's standards of ethics, labor, health & safety, the environment, and management systems are not exclusive to the pharmaceutical industry. They are standards that customers expect from all suppliers. By participating in the PSCI audit, all of the customers and prospects working with Quest can be assured of our commitment to safe and responsible work practices for our employees, as well as our customers' employees.

PSCI’s Shared Audit Program

PSCI’s shared audit program assesses and cultivates transparency, reduces the duplication of work, and helps their members improve the effectiveness of their supply chains. The audits, performed by PSCI-member companies or third party companies, are designed to assess a supplier's performance against the PSCI Principles. Each audit shared reduces duplication and burden for suppliers and members. But standardizing audits achieves much more than efficiency; it is spreading consistent and good practice right across the sector. Once an audit and any corrective action plans are completed, PSCI and the audited company can share the audit for all member companies to review.

For details on the audit, its process and methodology see the PSCI Audit Guidance document. Members of PSCI can view Quest's audit can find it on PSCI's membership page.

Any company that is not a PSCI member but interested in seeing our audit can contact us directly.

15 Mar 2016
Scientist dropping chemicals into tubes in a lab, wearing safety goggles.

Quest’s animal handling glove off­ers a high level of protection yet allows for humane handling of animals. Like most of our products, we worked closely with our customers to understand their needs and developed this glove to provide a solution not available on the market. Heavy duty leathers, Kevlar®, and extended cuff­ offers handlers the comfort and confidence to perform tasks and the humane handling of animals.

 

View Spec Sheet