Supply Chain Issues Communication Site

Liquid Nitrogen (LN)

(Update January 13, 2022)

Linde, the LBNL supplier of liquid nitrogen, has recently informed us that, although a contingency event is still in place, it is increasing LBNL’s allocation of LN to the equivalent of 85% of the LBNL average in the last 90 days. Because this issue may continue to cause some delays or changes in the schedule, it continues to be important that LBNL conserve consumption of LN as much as possible.

(Update December 6, 2021)

The Lab and the Bay Area continues to face a severe liquid nitrogen (LN) shortage due to a manufacturing problem in a regional production plant which is impacting bulk deliveries to our Lab site and other Bay Area users of LN. The Lab continues to receive limited deliveries which are not enough to fill all of our 10 large tanks on the main site to capacity. We have not been able to find another supplier; procurement continues to work to find additional supplier(s) of bulk LN.

Your help is needed to conserve bulk LN on our sites. Please conserve liquid nitrogen as much as possible during this critical supply shortage event which we anticipate will continue for the next several weeks. Other LN storage devices such as dewars and cylinders are still available through eBuy, but if this situation continues for several weeks, these sources could be affected as well. If you plan on buying dewars or cylinders please place orders promptly. If possible, please talk with your division safety coordinator about resourcing and using smaller containers such as dewars or cylinders so that those in areas that can only use bulk gas can continue to be supplied.

The Lab has established the Critical Incident Management Group (CIMG) to manage this situation which includes assessing safety impacts, monitoring tank levels, directing deliveries to the most needed areas, and identifying alternate supply sources. Representatives from research areas are on the CIMG, and they have recommended several conservation steps to preserve supplies which you can view in this guide. One conservation suggestion is to coordinate refilling of portable dewars by all users in your area to once or twice a day to minimize the line loss of liquid nitrogen. If you have any conservation suggestions, please send them to emergencymanagement@lbl.gov.

The CIMG will continue to update information at status.lbl.gov.  Lastly, please do not contact Linde, our bulk LN supplier, directly. CIMG personnel (including procurement) are in constant contact with Linde as part of their coordination efforts.  If you have any questions, please contact the CIMG at emergencymanagement@lbl.gov or the CIMG lead Gus Bannan at 925-808-8134 or at abannan@lbl.gov.

(Update November 24, 2021)

The Lab’s supplier of liquid nitrogen is reporting a critical supply chain issue with the manufacturer of liquid nitrogen caused by an equipment failure. This equipment failure at the production plant affects all regional and local distributors, including ours.  The manufacturer is working on a temporary fix (a replacement part installed), but there are no guarantees. This is not the same issue from earlier this month that involved the distributor’s supply of qualified truck drivers to bring liquid nitrogen to the Lab.

Usage of liquid nitrogen should be immediately reduced to the minimum practicable. Please turn off all non-critical use of liquid nitrogen until further notice. Facilities and procurement are monitoring tank levels closely and working with the supplier to schedule critical deliveries for the B30 and B70/70A tanks. Other tanks are stable for now, but we need to conserve as much as possible since we do not know when LN production will resume. If all goes well, production will resume on Friday and we shouldn’t see significant interruptions; but, we need to be prepared in the event that repairs do not work. Procurement is working closely with the Lab supplier of liquid nitrogen to continue to refill bulk tanks as necessary and is also working on potential backup providers of liquid nitrogen from outside the bay area.

If you have any questions about gases in your location, please contact Keileigh Bennett at 510-486-7571. If you need to check your tank levels you can contact the on-duty PMT at 510-486-5481. Thank you for your patience as we work through this supply issue.

(Update November 18, 2021)

Linde, the LBNL supplier of liquid nitrogen, has recently informed us that a compressor went down on November 18, 2021.  It will take up to 2 weeks for the plant to run at full capacity.  During this time Linde will continue to deliver the equivalent of 75% of LBNL average in the last 90 days.  Because this issue may cause some delays or changes in the schedule, It is suggested that LBNL conserve consumption of liquid nitrogen as much as possible.

The Lab’s bulk liquid nitrogen provider Linde (formerly Praxair) has notified the lab of potential delays in deliveries of LN related to driver and truck availability. There is not a shortage of LN. However, to avoid any critical issues, users are asked to conserve usage of LN.

The EH&S Research Support Team has put together this guide on conserving our liquid nitrogen resources. Facilities and building managers are asked to help by keeping track of their tank levels and alerting LN users if levels become critical.

Procurement is working to mitigate potential impacts related to any possible logistical or supply chain disruptions of LN. Specifically, Procurement has been working with Linde, who has continued to provide bulk LN to the Laboratory without any interruption to date. Procurement is also working with a potential second backup supplier to prevent any potential delivery disruptions moving forward.

If you have any questions about gases in your location please contact your Building Manager.

Liquid Helium (LHe)

There aren’t any known issues with supply shortages of LHE at this time. However, Procurement is in contact with the Lab’s bulk LHe provider Matheson, who has advised that it is difficult for them to respond to urgent orders. So, Matheson recommends that users plan in advance for replenishment of LHe, allowing up to a week for the ordering and delivery process.

Dry Ice

The Lab’s dry ice provider, Airgas USA, Inc., has recently reported supply chain issues which may potentially impact supply, delivery and pricing of dry ice. The impacts are related to limited materials (CO2) to make dry ice products.

Users of dry ice may experience delays in receiving their order or users may not receive the entirety of their requested order quantity/volume due to demand and shortage of dry ice products.

Procurement is committed to working with the Lab’s dry ice provider on order fulfillment and pricing. Procurement is also working on identifying potential alternate providers which can supply the Lab’s dry ice needs.

Please contact the procurement helpdesk at procurementhelp@lbl.gov.

Project Furniture (non eBuy)

(December 10, 2021)

Guy Brown’s lower-tier subcontractor (Staples), has informed us that they have dissolved their Project Furniture Division.  Staples’ Project Furniture provided custom furniture design and  reconfiguration services to the Laboratory. Guy Brown is searching for a new lower-tier subcontractor to perform the work.   For the time being, there will be a pause for these types of services.  All other Guy Brown / Staples eBuy catalogs remain unaffected.  This impacts special projects only.  

If you have any questions about Project Furniture, please contact spaceplanning@lbl.gov.  Thank you for your patience as we work through this issue.