Ensure Your Supply Chain Can Weather the Storm

With major meteorological events like El Nino in the forecast and winter on its way, the weather is becoming top-of-mind – particularly with supply chain and transportation experts. Significant weather events pose a threat to normal crop production and could also disrupt the movement of goods if roads are shut down or there is weather-related gridlock. However, supply chain and transportation managers can take steps to ensure they are prepared. Technology, visibility, and transportation management solutions have a vital role to play in that preparation.

Source: Pixabay

Source: Pixabay

Why extreme weather is an issue

Over the past two years there have been periods of extreme weather occurring concurrently all around the globe. The immediate and practical disruptions of these weather events are far-reaching because of the disruption they have on the global supply chain. Delays and interruptions to transportation are wide-ranging and go beyond the usual contingency plans that logistics managers have in place for winter snow storms, rain storms, or high temperatures.

Volatility affects every mode of transportation, from long-distance air travel to ocean shipments to localized, inter-region road, rail, and ferry crossings. This creates multiple levels of complexity and increases the risk of delays and bottlenecks. Plus, as is the case with El Nino, abnormal weather patterns can impact when and how much crops are produced, ultimately affecting what is being shipped and when.

Limiting disruption to the supply chain

With extreme weather, it is important to have solutions in place that enable true visibility into the supply chain. Transportation management solutions like Kewill's provide supply chain managers with visibility and collaboration capabilities, providing the ability to quickly reroute and or select a different mode of transportation to meet the current conditions. A community-based management system can also help with increased visibility – technology can allow for shared community knowledge and one single platform to provide weather updates, carrier information and information about delays in service. In order for this community to work the most effectively in the case of extreme weather, proper alerts and notifications must be in place. These allow shippers to be as agile as possible and proactively make alternative arrangements beforehand, rather than reactively responding to what has already happened.

These alerts also create the right data flow so that logistics managers will be aware of upcoming weather events, be it a minor rain storm or a hurricane that wipes out an entire field of crops. Visibility and data flow means that logistics managers can deal with these events and the proper steps will be taken to mitigate the impact. For example, if crop production gets disrupted in such a way that shipments have to be adjusted or delayed, logistics managers have the ability to hold trucks for the change in scheduled pickup time.

This keeps costs down because unnecessary trucks are not sent, and pickup only happens when the goods are ready. For logistics providers, this also could mean switching route, modality or carriers – or, worst case, getting the customer to amending its production or distribution schedule. The transportation management system will track each time this happens and keep all the information in one place, benefitting overall visibility.

Be prepared for the worst

While it is impossible to accurately predict all weather events, as a storm that was predicted to be devastating could turn out to be nothing more than a light rainfall,  supply chain experts and logistics manages always need to plan  for the worst. Software solutions that provide visibility are one way they can lessen the impact and limit disruptions.  Having the ability to quickly reroute or choose alternative modes of transportation in anticipation of storms will keep the supply chain running smoothly and ensure goods are delivered on time and as safely as possible.

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