Chinese Hardware Makers Normalizing Operations

    The hardware manufacturers in China that produce vapor products for the world market are back in business after a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based mostly in Shenzhen, the world’s electronics and e-cigarette capital, companies say that they are implementing new standards and processes to keep employees and customers safe.

    Several companies have also intensified their data-collection efforts for premarket tobacco product authorizations (PMTA) in U.S. market. “The coronavirus is indeed having an impact on the PMTA process,” says Welford Ou, CEO for SmokTech, a major manufacturer. “For example, the behavioral investigations have been stopped, and it also taking more time for us to prepare all the products for the PMTA.” As of this writing, PMTA applications are due to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 12.

    Smoore Technologies, the parent to Vaporesso and Feelm, says it “took strong and comprehensive measures” in advance of the virus’ outbreak. “We set up disease prevention and control teams in each of our facilities before the Chinese Spring Festival holiday. Dating back to Jan. 20, Feelm teams started to collect information, investigate employee’s conditions, prepare epidemic prevention supplies and disinfect public areas,” said Sofia Luo, marketing director for Feelm. “Before getting back on track, Feelm handed out a COVID-19 prevention and control booklet to each employee, providing scientific support to enhance health security.”

    All Smoore facilities are now back up to at least 85 percent of pre-pandemic production, according to Luo. She says Feelm is already shipping goods to the U.S. and has been since the middle of February. “Smoore and its subsidiaries have enough key materials inventory and all of our supply chain has recovered and is back in production,” she said. When asked whether there was a supply shortage, Luo replied: “In general, the impact of supply shortage is under control.”

    SmokTech is getting back to its normal operations and more workers are expected to be hired as the virus outbreak is brought under control, according to Ou, who added that the company is awaiting the return of some workers from Wuhan (located in the Hubei province and the epicenter of the pandemic) where residents were quarantined until March 25.

    “The sales are doing well even with the Spring festival and a longtime staying at home for virus control,” says Ou. “Our challenge is to get more skilled workers in short amount of time to meet the growing demand. My concern for the world market is hopefully they will embrace vaping and see it is better and safer than smoking cigarettes.”–T.S.D.