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Hurricane season is one of the worst times for the shipping industry. As a matter of fact, the hurricane season can dramatically affect the ability to transport freight whether it be sent overseas or on the road. Extreme weather is one of the primary reasons for supply chain failures, delays, and potential loss of revenue.
Storms can easily shut down warehouses, suspend railway service, create traffic delays and even cause damages or loss of the freight itself. These supply chain disruptions are timely and costly, and they can have serious impacts on your ability to deliver to your partners or consumers. Worst of all, the weather is not something over which we have any real control. The best we can do is find ways to mitigate some of the problems associated with it.
So what can you do to prepare your business for hurricanes and storms that negatively affect your transportation system?
Most supply chain managers don’t realize just how costly storms can be. Performing a risk management analysis can help shippers understand all of the different variables that you need to consider in order to make preventative and reactive plans.
One of the worst things you can do is think, “This doesn’t apply to us” or “This won’t happen to us.”
Weather is unexpected, and it’s even more damaging than often imagined. And yes, it can and does apply to literally everyone. Performing legitimate risk management analysis is the best way to understand how different scenarios could impact your business in the short-term as well as the long-run. Essentially, this serves as a form of predictive analysis if carried out correctly.
Even if you don’t normally operate in an area that is at risk during the hurricane season, you want to have a plan just in case. You never know what kind of weather-related incidents you may find yourself faced with when on the road far from home.
There are numerous risks involved in just about all freight movements. These issues are usually easily exacerbated when bad weather is thrown into the mix. You’ll especially want to consider what to do in the case of:
After acknowledging the risks you could run into, you’ll want to go through an itemized list of how your business could best prevent and address these concerns. Put together a contingency plan and put it through a mock test run to see if it will hold up.
Go through this contingency plan with a fine-tooth comb. Is every action possible? Is it useful? Will it help keep your employees and business safe while getting you back on the road as quickly as possible?
You want everyone in your supply chain to be keenly aware of the impacts of potential storms. Share with your company exactly what that risk looks like. Be upfront and honest about what hazards you may run into as well as your emergency and contingency plans.
This kind of transparency removes the chaos and anxiety surrounding storms, equips your employees to handle hazards effectively, and opens the dialogue to improve disaster routes and plans.
Awareness helps create visibility in your organization and across your supply chain operations. The more everyone is involved, the better you can work together to fight off the storm.
You’ll want to ensure that your emergency plans align with the rest of your supply chain. Neglecting to associate emergency plans so can actually worsen the scenario and endanger employees, freight, and other processes.
For example, part of your warehouse is below flood level. In the case of a hurricane, you want to stop all incoming freight to avoid damage in that warehouse. If you haven’t discussed this with your carriers or shippers, they might come to your warehouse to deliver goods right before a hurricane—potentially resulting in loss or damage from a flood.
Ideally, you want all partners along the supply chain to have the same emergency contingency plan as you. This ensures that you know where the freight will go to stay warm and dry, where trucks will stop to keep drivers safe, and when and how the chain will start back up again to deliver to consumers.
Don’t forget about all the technology at your fingertips. Tech not only keeps your supply chain organized, but it also allows for instantaneous communication between partners. It can also help you identify weather-related problems before they become an issue. Using artificial intelligence technology is especially useful, as it can help adjust alternate sourcing and transportation methods in mere minutes before or during a storm.
You’re likely already insured for your packages during shipment. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have additional insurance, like flood coverage, to help restore your business in the case of a bad storm. Make sure your business—and your carrier and partners—have adequate insurance for weather-related incidents.
After a storm occurs, analyze the data from the time period of the storm. How well (or how poorly) did your organization perform? Which areas could you improve upon for next time? Where did you lose time or money?
You can hope that another storm won’t hit, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Utilizing data from previous storms or other companies’ experiences can help you adjust your own emergency plans accordingly.
With hurricane season brewing around us, you want to ensure your supply chain is prepared—come what may. Stay informed of weather patterns, maintain open communication and visibility, work with employees and partners, and leverage technology to keep your operations running safely and smoothly.
At Redwood Logistics, we’re focused on providing innovative services that expect the unexpected and continuously improve the shipping process. From our RedwoodInsight logistics data tracking tool to supply chain management and SmartDock warehousing operations, we offer an array of services that make it easy for your business to do business—no matter what storms you run into.
Contact us to learn about how we use foresight, planning, and strategy to improve your transportation operations, even in the eye of the storm.