Resources & Articles

Medical Foam Supply Chain 2023 Outlook

Pressures on the supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted nearly every industry, causing delays and scarcity in needed materials.

While the supply chain crunch has eased since the peak of the Covid pandemic, some issues still remain, including the supply of medical grade foam.

In many cases, finding a replacement for the preferred type of foam requires approval, documentation and a lot of time and money. Your company needs assurance that the materials you need are available when you need them.

Every company should be making materials availability a primary topic of discussion with their suppliers. Before contracting with any new manufacturer, ask them about their medical foam supplies, lead times and how they plan to manage supply issues.

In this post we’ll provide an update on the medical foam supply chain issues and what to do if this is impacting your company.

Medical Foam Supply Chain

During 2020, many medical grade foam suppliers had interruptions in operations or a major slow-down in production. This caused pent-up demand for medical foam, which strained the supply chain, even when the world was largely back to normal.

Today, lead time for medical grade foam is down, yet may not be at the place that your company needs to keep up with demand. To fully understand why this issue still remains in some cases, it helps to look at the reasons for the disruption.

Reasons for the Disruption

In early 2022, we wrote a post about the availability of medical foam and supply chain issues. At that time, there was a lack of availability in the raw materials needed to manufacture the foam. There were also worker shortages at manufacturing facilities contributing to production slowdown. Tightening border controls and a truck driver shortage were also contributing factors.

Today, the supply chain issue is rooted in a lack of workforce. Personnel shortages are affecting many industries around the globe. The availability of plastic resin used in the manufacturing of foam was also impacted by a large fire in July at a plant in Mexico. These problems are likely going to take time to resolve and to get the industry back to pre-pandemic workforce levels.

In response, Janco has opted to become proactive, increasing our inventory of medical foam to keep the materials our customers need available.

What to Ask Medical Grade Foam Suppliers

For many years, price and quality were the two topics manufacturers wanted to ask their suppliers. Company reputation and cost are still important, yet supply chain issues have shifted the priorities of manufacturers.

When talking to suppliers and companies like yours, the first question companies like yours ask is often about materials lead time. At Janco, we work with Volara and Zote for medical grade foam. Depending on which foam supplier we are using for a project, it may mean a difference in lead times. Ask your medical grade foam supplier for the lead time details depending on the supplier used as well.

After lead time comes inventory. Does your supplier keep inventory on hand or do they take a just-in-time approach? Because of the unpredictable nature of medical foam supplies and lead time, it’s essential to get the full picture of how your manufacturing partner manages their inventory.

Janco’s Inventory Approach

As a customer-focused company, we are dedicated to ensuring our customers always have access to the best materials on the market. Janco has strategically positioned our team as a distributor of high-performance plastic and foams, including Volara and Zote medical foams. Janco stocks 35 different grades and thicknesses of Volara, which we keep in stock for our customers’ needs.

Our approach to inventory gives companies a unique advantage over competitors when it comes to sourcing, supply, and meeting high-volume, mid-volume, or low-volume needs.

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Learn about our medical packaging capabilities, from compression molding to thermoforming. Talk to us today.

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