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A Perfect Storm: Examining the Supply Chain for N95 Masks during COVID-19
Kraft, Tim; Shah, Jimit; Alagesan, Suriyaprakash; Handfield, Robert Case OM-1708 / Published November 30, 2020 / 11 pages.
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Product Overview

N95 masks are an important aspect in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to the virus’s contagious nature. Coronavirus is a flu disease. It affects the respiratory tract of a person’s body and causes difficulties in breathing. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus who are symptomatic experience mild to moderate respiratory illness, fever, and fatigue, and recover without needing to be hospitalized. However, there are cases wherein people are asymptomatic (i.e., not showing any symptoms) but still test positive for the virus and complicate attempts to stop its spread. This case introduces students to critical issues that occurred in the supply chain for N95 masks during the global pandemic. While many students will be familiar with the fact that supply chain disruptions occurred during the crisis, many will not know the specific details or why these disruptions occurred. The case can be used to illustrate the fundamental operational issues that occurred throughout the N95 masks’ supply chain, discuss where improvements should be made, and emphasize the concept of supply chain resiliency.


Learning Objectives

- Learn the operational issues that led to supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic - Understand the importance of tactical decisions when formulating an operational strategy - Study potential disruption-mitigation strategies and their impact - Learn the concept of the tragedy of the commons - Understand the concepts of supply chain immunity versus resiliency

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  • Overview

    N95 masks are an important aspect in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to the virus’s contagious nature. Coronavirus is a flu disease. It affects the respiratory tract of a person’s body and causes difficulties in breathing. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus who are symptomatic experience mild to moderate respiratory illness, fever, and fatigue, and recover without needing to be hospitalized. However, there are cases wherein people are asymptomatic (i.e., not showing any symptoms) but still test positive for the virus and complicate attempts to stop its spread. This case introduces students to critical issues that occurred in the supply chain for N95 masks during the global pandemic. While many students will be familiar with the fact that supply chain disruptions occurred during the crisis, many will not know the specific details or why these disruptions occurred. The case can be used to illustrate the fundamental operational issues that occurred throughout the N95 masks’ supply chain, discuss where improvements should be made, and emphasize the concept of supply chain resiliency.

  • Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    - Learn the operational issues that led to supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic - Understand the importance of tactical decisions when formulating an operational strategy - Study potential disruption-mitigation strategies and their impact - Learn the concept of the tragedy of the commons - Understand the concepts of supply chain immunity versus resiliency