Publication Date
Authored by
Kelly Sorel, Song Gao
Topic(s) Covered:
  • Demand Planning
  • Sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic created a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. This environment motivated the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to reconsider its decentralized procurement model and develop a temporary, centralized, and more sustainable model for the sourcing and distribution of these items to enable safe on-campus activity. However, the determination of demand needed to inform this procurement model was not uniform, consistent, or based on actual need. This capstone identifies and outlines the strategies for requesting, receiving, and using PPE and cleaning supplies at the department level, and seeks to help departments estimate when and how much PPE and cleaning supplies to order. To achieve these objectives, we analyzed order history data and interviewed key stakeholders on campus. From the qualitative and quantitative data collected, we ascertained and mapped different strategies departments utilized to manage their PPE and cleaning supplies needs, gained further insight into the motivations and purchasing behavior of different departments, and assessed how the new, centralized model performed in fulfilling demand. Finally, we utilized data in developing a PPE calculator and proposing a demand plan to support the new, centralized process. This demand plan, along with the departments’ use of our PPE calculator, contributed to development of a strategy and framework to guide more sustainable campus PPE and cleaning supplies procurement and allocation.

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