Global supply chains are under high pressure these days. Increased demand for goods, labor shortages and tension, skyrocketing inflation, increased volatility in shipping volumes, and record high fuel costs to name a few. All of this is coming together to impact both international shipping and domestic transportation management systems. Starting with bottlenecks both overseas where Chinese ports are backed up due to the ongoing Zero-COVID policies, as well as domestically where they’re overwhelmed with an increase in shipments paired with a shortage of equipment and workers, these issues persist and amplify throughout the entire supply chain, all the way down to warehouses and local distribution centers. Given these already overwhelmed systems, any extreme weather event is likely to throw supply chains into further disarray. And with hurricane season coming in hard and fast with the arrival of hurricane Ian in the USA and Fiona in Canada, a supply chain can quickly move from complex to chaotic, causing severe disruptions.
As we’ve learned from previous years, even one powerful hurricane can have a huge impact on the supply chain. From oil to orange juice, no industry is ever entirely safe from the potential aftermath of a natural disaster and should have plans in place for managing a hurricane’s potential impact, and avoiding disruption wherever possible.
Below, we will outline our top 4 strategies to help you keep your supply chain on track this hurricane season.
1. Establish real-time visibility and communication
When a hurricane hits, knowing where your shipments are is typically the number one priority. Imagine you’re planning to receive a shipment today. You’ve hired people to accept the shipment, maybe action what is inside of the shipment, even arranged warehouse storage. But when the shipment doesn’t arrive, you have little to no insight as to its location, or when it will arrive. When trying to manage shipments before, during, or after a hurricane, this is all but guaranteed to cause serious issues.
To manage the impact of extreme weather events like these, decisions need to be made in real-time as the event is unfolding. In order to do this you need total visibility over your supply chain operations, as well as the ability to instantly communicate with carriers, shippers and customers about changes, delays, and other issues in order to stay ahead. Shipwell helps to support this through access to a network of 2 million ELD-connected trucks and over 36 million location data points tracked per day to ensure you always know the status of your shipments in real-time, plus automatic shipment notifications and two-way communication to allow you to instantly get in touch with drivers and resolve problems, all from the Shipwell platform.
2. Enable more proactive exception management
Visibility and communication is the first step in enabling a rapid response to extreme weather and other supply chain disruptions. But real-time visibility can only tell you what is happening now. In order to stay ahead of disruptions, you need a method for quickly recognizing and addressing issues that could further impact an already overwhelmed supply chain. Getting a clear view into what loads are not being tracked, where shipments are overdue or running late, where weather events or traffic disruptions are likely to cause delays along a planned route, and other common issues are all too easily missed when dealing with a potential or ongoing crisis.
So while great visibility provides instant access to data, enhanced exception management capabilities like Shipwell’s Compass Dashboard can help you drill into those details and find out where there are hold-ups that could quickly cause major issues in the event of extreme weather, and provide options for taking instant action to correct them — all from a single screen. By using these capabilities, Shipwell customers are able to ensure a 98% on-time pickup and delivery rate.
3. Establish alternative routes in high-risk areas
While also vital for managing earthquake and wildfire disruptions on the west coast, when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms, this is especially important for companies who operate in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and other states along the Gulf Coast. When these destructive weather events make landfall, they tend to cause flooding and damage across a wide path, leaving vital roadways impassable. Even areas that aren’t directly impacted by these issues can quickly become congested as roads are overwhelmed with vehicles moving away from affected areas.
To improve route efficiency and reduce delays, it’s always best to plan ahead by creating a series of alternate routes for trucks to take during hurricane season. By monitoring past traffic and shipping data and analyzing it against current weather patterns, it’s possible to establish a plan that will enable you to create efficient routes that can help to avoid delays no matter what happens on the road.
4. Diversify your network of carriers
No matter how much you trust and rely on your core group of carriers, it’s always well advised to establish and maintain a diverse network of carriers. The effects of extreme weather like hurricanes are often unpredictable, as are the effects it can have on those you rely on. During a disruptive natural disaster like a hurricane, reliance on a small pool of carriers can cause devastating losses of revenue in an already higher-pressure marketplace.
Having a solid network of backup partners not only allows you to ensure capacity during short supply, but also enables you to quickly move product via drop trailer out of harm’s way when a hurricane is approaching, and reduces risk when moving shipments to a new carrier. Through Shipwell partnership with nearly 1,000 ELD-connected carriers, you have instant access to pre-vetted capacity across all modes, allowing you to quickly source carriers you can trust to get your shipment where it needs to be quickly and safely.
Since the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms are frequently unpredictable, it is better to be safe than sorry and have strategies and technology in place to manage the difficulties that they can cause. With hurricane season upon us, it’s absolutely vital to stay informed of weather events, leverage real-time visibility and communication technology, remain proactive in exception management to prevent small issues from compounding, have robust back-up plans in place ahead of time, and ensure that you have a diverse network of carriers to pull from to keep products moving. With these tools, your company will be able to weather any storm.
To discover how Shipwell’s suite of supply chain management tools can help you weather any storm, schedule a demo today.