Hurricane season is getting underway as supply chains still haven’t rebounded from the many COVID-19 disruptions of the past year. That means that retailers and manufacturers could potentially face even more significant problems than usual if a hurricane does strike.
The impact of hurricanes and severe weather usually extends far beyond the area in the storm’s path, which means companies located everywhere around the country are all open to disruption to their logistics operations.
Here are some of the problems that companies should be prepared to deal with:
- Closures of suppliers or transportation companies who are in the path of the storm. This may include several days in advance for evacuation time as well as several days after to recover.
- Closures of transportation hubs that aren’t in the direct route between you and a supplier or customer. Keep in mind that many shippers use a hub-and-spoke model, so your goods may not travel in a straight line.
- Shipping delays as cargo vessels, trucks, and freight planes must reroute around the storm or wait it out. Port closures may also be possible.
- Manufacturing delays from closures, damaged infrastructure, or power outages. These could extend for days or weeks after a storm.
- Lack of capacity if transportation companies allocate resources towards storm preparation and recovery.
What Can a Shipper Do to Prepare for Hurricanes?
If you’re in an area prone to hurricanes, you probably already know the importance of having a hurricane plan to protect your business and your employees. Consider the impact on your supply chain as well.
Not surprisingly, preparation and foresight are paramount. The first step is to identify which points of your supply chain could be impacted, the extent of the potential impact, and your available backup options.
If you’ve determined that your suppliers may experience disruptions, you may want to increase manufacturing lead times. When possible, place orders earlier and build up reserve inventory that you can use during shipping or supply disruptions.
Similarly, if you expect delays getting products to your customers, try to build up a reserve of finished goods or see if you can ship early.
Work with Trustworthy Transportation Partners
No trucking companies are immune from hurricanes. If the road is closed, the road is closed. In addition, the additional demand for trucks around hurricanes can make it harder than usual to find truck capacity when you need it.
Here is where transparency and strong carrier partnerships pay their biggest dividends. Being a ‘shipper of choice’ has extreme value when truckload availability is limited and everyone is scrambling to get loads covered.
Have Contingency Plans
You should have contingency plans for the parts of your logistics network that may have problems. For example, say your preferred trucking company is to the south in an area closer to the coast, so it will be more impacted by hurricanes. You might want to plan to diversify by shifting some of your shipping volume to another trucking company that sits high and dry to the north.
Make Good Use of Technology
Information is your most important asset when dealing with any type of disruption. You need to know what’s going on and your available options for solving any problems. Make sure you have technology that provides good visibility into your shipping activities.
At minimum, this should include tracking information from your suppliers to you and you to your customers so you know when things are arriving and what’s delayed. If you order or ship from multiple locations, knowing where additional inventory is will also be helpful.
Loadsmart.com provides shippers with technology offering instant access to quotes and capacity with fully-vetted carrier partners. Our network helps to ensure you can find trucks even when severe weather is impacting supply chains around the country.
We are industry veterans and data-scientists using innovative technology to fearlessly reinvent the future of freight. As the ‘nerds of logistics’, we seek intelligence in data to solve deep-rooted inefficiencies in the industry. We give shippers, brokers and carriers access to our data connections (linking supply and demand) and suite of award-winning solutions to strike the perfect balance of cost and service. We’re creating a more efficient and environmentally responsible way to move more with less. For more information, please visit: https://loadsmart.com