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dapaterson

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The problem with stock cycling is that a pandemic, as a black swan event, requires vastly greater quantities than would normally be cycled through.  Depot stocks could partially be distributed through life cycle, but holdings to address a national pandemic have to be significantly more than normal consumption - how large is an exercise in risk assessment and risk management. 

I suspect that buried in PHAC briefings to various ministers was a note that the savings they were ordered to find in various government cutting exercises were increasing risk in the event of a national pandemic; but since the assessed risk was likely very low probability, but with extremely high impact (top left corner of the graph) it was accepted.

(For those interested in such things: GoC guide to risk management: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/corporate/risk-management/guide-integrated-risk-management.html)
 

lenaitch

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dapaterson said:
The problem with stock cycling is that a pandemic, as a black swan event, requires vastly greater quantities than would normally be cycled through.  Depot stocks could partially be distributed through life cycle, but holdings to address a national pandemic have to be significantly more than normal consumption - how large is an exercise in risk assessment and risk management. 

I suspect that buried in PHAC briefings to various ministers was a note that the savings they were ordered to find in various government cutting exercises were increasing risk in the event of a national pandemic; but since the assessed risk was likely very low probability, but with extremely high impact (top left corner of the graph) it was accepted.

(For those interested in such things: GoC guide to risk management: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/corporate/risk-management/guide-integrated-risk-management.html)

Oh, for sure, but at least it provides for rotation.  How effective it works depends on shelf live, which depends on the item and how it is stored.  Just using wild numbers, if the Canadian medical system uses 5 million masks in a normal year, if there are 50 million on hand, the inventory is re-cycled within 10 years.  For more complex items such as ventilators, generators, etc. etc. they migh be more durable but there are ongoing readiness costs.

What it takes is money for warehousing and inventory management personnel/systems, which governments don't like to do because it has no votes in it.  If I'm in charge of a Ministry, division, etc. and am presented with an x% budget cut, do I cut this or day-to-day service delivery that the public sees and makes them happy?
 

dapaterson

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lenaitch said:
Oh, for sure, but at least it provides for rotation.  How effective it works depends on shelf live, which depends on the item and how it is stored.  Just using wild numbers, if the Canadian medical system uses 5 million masks in a normal year, if there are 50 million on hand, the inventory is re-cycled within 10 years.  For more complex items such as ventilators, generators, etc. etc. they migh be more durable but there are ongoing readiness costs.

Except the shelf life is 5 years, so you're throwing away 50%, and the opposition and press condemn you for wasting money on materiel that was never used.  Or you shrink the stockpile and keep your fingers crossed that things won't go sideways - hope is always a CoA (unfortunately).

What it takes is money for warehousing and inventory management personnel/systems, which governments don't like to do because it has no votes in it.  If I'm in charge of a Ministry, division, etc. and am presented with an x% budget cut, do I cut this or day-to-day service delivery that the public sees and makes them happy?

There will also be the conflicting priorities of an effective system, and one that spreads federal funding around.  So while your depots should be near major transportation infrastructure and major population centres, you know there's going to be a stockpile of 5 million masks in Mt Pleasant PEI, beside the airport (that will also get millions of dollars poured into it "just in case") because someone needs to be seen as bringing home the bacon in advance on an election.  (See also: GoC Pay and Pension Centres in New Brunswick, whose mail goes through Matane QC because of course.)
 

brihard

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dapaterson said:
The problem with stock cycling is that a pandemic, as a black swan event, requires vastly greater quantities than would normally be cycled through.  Depot stocks could partially be distributed through life cycle, but holdings to address a national pandemic have to be significantly more than normal consumption - how large is an exercise in risk assessment and risk management. 

I suspect that buried in PHAC briefings to various ministers was a note that the savings they were ordered to find in various government cutting exercises were increasing risk in the event of a national pandemic; but since the assessed risk was likely very low probability, but with extremely high impact (top left corner of the graph) it was accepted.

(For those interested in such things: GoC guide to risk management: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/corporate/risk-management/guide-integrated-risk-management.html)

Not having any idea what consumption rates are like, I wonder if they took a 'just in time' approach and set it up so that stuff would get pushed out to end users in the last 3 or 4 months of its shelf life? That way, assuming a 5 year shelf life, there would at all times being seven or eight months' of normal supply stockpiled that they could draw on while ramping up manufacturing as we saw happen in the spring?
 

dapaterson

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Brihard said:
Not having any idea what consumption rates are like, I wonder if they took a 'just in time' approach and set it up so that stuff would get pushed out to end users in the last 3 or 4 months of its shelf life? That way, assuming a 5 year shelf life, there would at all times being seven or eight months' of normal supply stockpiled that they could draw on while ramping up manufacturing as we saw happen in the spring?

If we need ten masks in the stockpile which have a five year shelf life, and over five years national consumption is five, then every ten years we will issue five and destroy five as expired.

Just in time collapses when everyone needs it at the same time, as happened with PPE this year.  That's the rationale for having more than you need usually, so that you have enough when things go pear shaped.
 

brihard

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dapaterson said:
If we need ten masks in the stockpile which have a five year shelf life, and over five years national consumption is five, then every ten years we will issue five and destroy five as expired.

Just in time collapses when everyone needs it at the same time, as happened with PPE this year.  That's the rationale for having more than you need usually, so that you have enough when things go pear shaped.

Understood. Let's take bigger numbers for math. Let's say Ontario needs a million masks a month, and masks have a five year shelf live. So they stockpile 55 million masks. Every month the million oldest go out with 4 or 5 months left in their life, and a million new ones show up. At all times upwards of 50 million are stockpiled. Through deliberate rotation, they don't expire.

Public health crisis like COVID hits, and suddenly the province needs 15 million masks a month- a multiple of 15x normal use. That stockpile now means you have three months and a bit stockpiled, so it buys you three months to try to get emergency production/acquisition online. It buys time to get more, if nothing else.

Am I fundamentally off track on any part of the theory of this? Obviously the logistical realities are far more complicated, but they could, for instance, tell health care providers that if they acquire their materiel from the stockpile, they would be eligible to draw on it in the event of a crisis. If they choose not to and to make their own contracting and acquisition, fine, but they don't necessarily get a priority access to stockpiled stuff in the event of a crisis. That would encourage centralized materiel management for critical PPE.
 

Cloud Cover

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In a surprisingly nice development on the issue of masks and visors, one of Ontario’s First Nations took up the challenge and converted space into a manufacturing facility for PPE.  This is one of those things that I hope survives beyond the pandemic. Sourcing at home in a location where those jobs are sorely needed.

https://www.myespanolanow.com/37130/new-factory-to-make-ppe-opens-in-wiikwemkoong/
 

lenaitch

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Brihard said:
Understood. Let's take bigger numbers for math. Let's say Ontario needs a million masks a month, and masks have a five year shelf live. So they stockpile 55 million masks. Every month the million oldest go out with 4 or 5 months left in their life, and a million new ones show up. At all times upwards of 50 million are stockpiled. Through deliberate rotation, they don't expire.

Public health crisis like COVID hits, and suddenly the province needs 15 million masks a month- a multiple of 15x normal use. That stockpile now means you have three months and a bit stockpiled, so it buys you three months to try to get emergency production/acquisition online. It buys time to get more, if nothing else.

Am I fundamentally off track on any part of the theory of this? Obviously the logistical realities are far more complicated, but they could, for instance, tell health care providers that if they acquire their materiel from the stockpile, they would be eligible to draw on it in the event of a crisis. If they choose not to and to make their own contracting and acquisition, fine, but they don't necessarily get a priority access to stockpiled stuff in the event of a crisis. That would encourage centralized materiel management for critical PPE.

No, I think you have it - the stockpile, properly managed so it remains useable, buys time.  Obviously, if demand increases x-fold, you need to ramp up production unless the crisis is large but localized and relatively short-lived like some kind of natural disaster.  The alternative to a stockpile is purchase, in large quantities, perhaps when everybody else is wanting the same thing.  As we have seen, many sources, large and small, rose to the occasion and began cranking out masks, but I would suggest masks are on the comparatively easy end (although dependent on raw material availability) of ramped up production.  Other emergency preparedness products perhaps not so much.
 

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Part of the problem here is silo thinking. 

Yes, our emergency stockpile of N95 masks may be greater than what can be cycled through in the 5-year shelf life of the mask.  But why does that mean that the expired masks have to be thrown out? 

Why not set it up that when masks hit year four of their life they are transferred (along with their budget cost) from Public Safety Canada to Global Affairs Canada.  These masks (still with a full year of life in them) can then be distributed as part of our foreign aid program to Third World countries and medical NGO's to use.  Something tangible that can fill a need and reduce the health care costs to poor nations and can't easily be misused like cash.
 

dapaterson

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Life cycling would have to be in advance of expiry to avoid a perspective of "dumping expired stuff on the third world".

 

GR66

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dapaterson said:
Life cycling would have to be in advance of expiry to avoid a perspective of "dumping expired stuff on the third world".

That's why I suggested that they be distributed at the 4 year mark with one year of life left in them.  I'm sure the annual requirement for disposable N95 masks in the developing world FAR exceeds the quantity we'd be looking to cycle each year.
 

dapaterson

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I admire your optimism that PHAC and GAC could sufficiently coordinate to collect, ship and distribute materiel within a year.
 

daftandbarmy

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dapaterson said:
I admire your optimism that PHAC and GAC could sufficiently coordinate to collect, ship and distribute materiel within a year.

And putting a General in charge should help all that work better, right?

:sarcasm:
 

SeaKingTacco

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dapaterson said:
I admire your optimism that PHAC and GAC could sufficiently coordinate to collect, ship and distribute materiel within a year.

Hey- this is aspirational stuff.
 

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daftandbarmy said:
And putting a General in charge should help all that work better, right?

:sarcasm:

A Major or LCol would make things worse as well, unless you chose the right person.  In this case, MGen Fortin is the right person, based off of my firsthand view of the first go around for Op LASER.
 

Cloud Cover

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PPCLI Guy said:
A Major or LCol would make things worse as well, unless you chose the right person.  In this case, MGen Fortin is the right person, based off of my firsthand view of the first go around for Op LASER.

Looking at his picture I think he was beside me the whole way on the army run a few years back. His pace seemed effortless and the cadence was inspiring. . A guy that can run like that can concentrate on what matters most - run the mile you are in, eyes on the next and what’s needed to get there. I suspect he leads like that.
 
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