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Establishing a PPE supply chain

Responding to Covid-19: rapidly establishing a PPE supply chain.  

In the early stages of the global COVID pandemic, Australian federal and state governments reacted swiftly to directly source Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The PPE supplies had been severely depleted following the bushfires and floods occurring in 2019 – 2020 and needed to be urgently restocked.  

Our customer, a leading provider to the Government, was awarded multiple department of health “Source & Supply” contracts for various Medical and non-Medical PPE products..  

As most PPE – from masks to gowns, goggles, IR thermometers, gloves, face shields, sanitiser and other front-line equipment – was being manufactured in China; to fulfill the contract obligations, the PPE needed to be direct sourced from China at a time when the whole world was chasing product, planes and ships.  

While the company had its own network of local suppliers and distributors for sourcing products, it didn’t have direct relationships with the overseas manufacturers of the specific products required. Given the urgency of the project’s ambition to immediately resupply supplies and provide PPE for Australia’s front-line defence against COVID-19, the company needed the expertise and capability of a supply chain management partner who could also provide on-the-ground support in China. 

Adding further complexity: 

  • All goods sourced and supplied had to be on the approved “White Lists” of both the Chinese and Australian government agencies, which was an evolving geo-political landscape, with frequently tightening export regulations in China to ensure continuity of supply.  
  • All imported stock needed to meet stringent compliance criteria including being palletised and wrapped, with scannable bar code labels per pallet identifying SKU data, production date, batch date and shelf life information. 


The entire direct sourcing and import supply chain framework had to be built, while in parallel, physically preparing to move significant volumes of medical PPE in what was already becoming a disrupted global market (in March/April 2020) with severe airframe capacity restrictions. 

Ligentia, together with our partners were engaged to find and introduce sourcing agents and/or direct manufacturers for the product list.  We assisted, negotiated and coordinated purchase orders for the required stock volumes, including maintaining ethical sourcing governance and validating manufacturers credentials against strict Chinese export customs formalities and Australian import formalities.  We then facilitated all logistics movements from factory pick up locations, compliantly delivering to 3PL operators in three locations across Australia.


Ligentia China and Australia teams, with our partners, built and rapidly deployed “source to shelf” airbridge and ocean infrastructure in one week with first production of orders coming off supplier lines two weeks later.  This facilitated the movement of: 

  • 20 million 3 ply masks (non-Medical) 
  • 100 million N95 & KN95 face masks (both Medical) 
  • 30 million surgical gowns (Medical) 
  • 80 million isolation gowns (non-Medical) 
  • 50 million rubber & latex gloves (Medical) 
  • Plus other sundry equipment and supplies (sanitiser, foot/shoe coverings, hair nets, infrared thermometers and face shields).  

This equated to 2,705,400kg airfreight or 108 air charters plus a further 550 TEU of full ocean freight containers delivered on time and within budget over a 6 month time period. With the help of Ligentia, the customer was able to meet all its contracted commitments, and during a period of unprecedented disruption for global supply chains.  

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