Looking at the global pandemic that impacted millions over the past few months, N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) were one of the most critical components that helped flatten the curve.
People everywhere have been doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, and these efforts have resulted in the decline of new cases. Current CDC guidelines recommend wearing face masks when going out in public and maintaining social distance wherever possible.
The manufacturing supply chain of masks and other PPE products begins with natural gas and oil companies across the U.S. who provide the base raw materials, like Cabot. According to an article from American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, refineries process raw materials produced into the petrochemicals, like polypropylene, which create the derivatives needed for the final product.
The incorporation of petrochemicals produces materials that ensure the effectiveness and comfort of medical-grade masks, which is incredibly important for our front-line workers.
Masks are being manufactured to meet the extreme demand across healthcare and other essential workers.
This has led to additional pressure on the manufacturers to do all they can to ensure a safe and efficient way of producing enough to supply the added demand. Though this can be challenging, companies are making every effort to come up with new and creative ways to produce PPE.
Sanitation products have also become scarce due to the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many manufacturers have altered their operations to include the mass production of hand sanitizer in an effort to combat shortages in the healthcare industries. Valero switched one of their ethanol plants in Iowa to include the manufacturing of hand sanitizer for local medical-related businesses. Similarly, Exxon facilities worked to manufacture approximately 160,000 gallons of product.
Companies in the industry have shown great resilience and innovation in recent months, something that will only continue as they are faced with new challenges in the future.