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The winter months are a time of festive celebrations, stunning snowy landscapes, and a whole host of dangers, delays, and unwanted surprises for the logistics industry. As with other adverse weather conditions, a combination of preparedness and flexibility is the key to surviving and thriving during the winter shipping season.
You’ll need to be aware of the specific needs of each shipment and prepare accordingly, be aware of alternative routes, stay on top of the forecast, and allow room for minor delays and changes. The steps needed to weather-proof your business against the winter months can be broken down into two main categories.
These categories consist of preparing the shipments themselves, as well as creating a flexible schedule with alternatives and safeguards for those shipments.
First things first, check over the Bill of Lading (BOL) to be sure of the acceptable temperature range for a particular shipment and to see if there are any special instructions for cold-weather shipping. Some goods will just need to stay above freezing, while others will need to stay within a certain range. For instance, food and other perishables, cosmetics, paints, and glue usually require a specific temperature range.
For the more sensitive shipments, you’ll want to use trucks and containers that have internal temperature controls or at least insulation in the walls.
For winter shipments, it can be risky to set the carrier schedule in stone far in advance of shipping time. On the other hand, you don’t want to be stuck with a deadline and no carrier availability.
Cold weather shipments face issues that are inherently unpredictable but you can be better-prepared before the cold season arrives. By knowing your needs and expecting the unexpected, though, you can reduce the risk.
Know the temperature-specific needs of each shipment. Address them by choosing the right carrier and packing material, and keeping the goods away from cold surfaces.
Also, try not to lock yourself into a time frame and budget without sufficient room for delays and route changes. Know how much flexibility you have by maintaining open communication with your partners. Prepare alternative routes, carriers, and modes of transport.
And finally, use the best available technology at your disposal to be aware of road closures, delays, and weather forecasting.