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Reducing the pain.

Reducing The Pain

AIDS, cost containment and disposability ... these three overriding themes of the medical nonwovens business today are inextricably linked in the product development and marketing efforts of companies up and down the supply chain.

The concerns over AIDS and other infectious diseases have forced health care providers to spend more of their precious resources on ways to protect their staff. Cost containment measures instituted in the mid-1980's have made it much more difficult for hospitals and other institutions to dig up the resources to pay for this extra protection. And then, after all is said and done, these nonwoven medical fabrics, which have been proven more effective than their woven counterparts in protecting against blood borne pathogens, must be disposed of properly. Incineration is universally hailed as the disposal method of choice, but it is a highly regulated and highly emotional solution.

So what is a nonwovens fabric manufacturer or converter to do in the face of forces over which it has very, very little control? Laudable efforts have already been made in developing more effective barrier control fabrics, while the disposability issue promises no short term solutions. The obvious place to direct renewed efforts is at more effective cost containment measures. The answer must be in a cooperative effort from one end of the distribution chain to the other.

It is a logical place to begin because every supplier we contacted for a special report on medical nonwovens in this issue placed cost right at the top of its list of concerns. Since it is such a universal concern, it demands a universal solution.

A spirit of partnership in the attempt to reduce the entire cost of the product chain is a necessity to medical nonwovens suppliers, a spirit of "we are all in this together." If it doesn't there is surely a limit to how far a company could be pushed as margins tighten and demands for price cuts continue. If one link in the chain gets all of the problems dumped on it, then someone somewhere in that link is ultimately going to decide this is a business it could live without. In this case, everyone loses.

One proposed solution from inside the industry includes following the lead set by the domestic apparel business, which in an incredibly brief period was able to implement such ground breaking programs as Quick Response, universal bar coding, electronic data exchange and automated apparel research. By cutting the time and paperwork in the chain, it has given a new lease on life to many in this beleaguered industry.

Just redistributing the pain to others has worked for some in the past, but if it continues it will end up hurting everyone involved. Rather than merely redistribute, we have to find ways to reduce the pain. In this case, the medical business seems a logical place to start.
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Title Annotation:major concerns of medical nonwovens business: AIDS, cost containment and disposability
Author:Jacobsen, Michael A.
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:editorial
Date:Nov 1, 1989
Words:478
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