3M is a company known for scotch tapes and post-it notes but during the coronavirus pandemic, it has become the largest producer of N95 masks. However, even as the company ramped up production and is on its way to produce 95 million masks a month this fall and 2 billion by the end of 2020, it’s still facing a challenge to meet the demand for the masks, CEO Mike Roman says.
“Even today, the demand for N95s is greater than not only our production capacity, but the entire industry. So we're still facing a challenge to meet that demand,” he told CNN Wednesday.
“We are working in partnership with other companies to look at ways that you can reuse N95s. We're also exploring ways to bring other kinds of respiratory solutions. We have reusable respirators, which are another solution. They can't meet all of the demand either but there are other things we're doing to fight them at every angle,” he added.
A lesson already being learned from this pandemic and production process is that investing in inventory and capacity is key.
“It's public-private partnerships that are doing that. Part of the investment with the DoD is to be able to have capacity to build an inventory of N95s. It’s also true that we’re doing that in partnership with health care providers, making sure that they have sufficient inventory.”
“Broadly, we were not ready for the demand,” he told CNN about pandemic preparedness at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.