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Optimize These 3 Areas of Your Supply Chain to Mitigate Hurricane Season Woes

by Aristides Smith  09/24/2018

2018 may end up delivering one of the worst hurricane seasons on record — even worse than the devastating 2017 season. As we saw in 2017 with Harvey and then Maria, hurricanes deeply impacted drivers, shippers, and other logistics leaders near the U.S. coasts, but shockwaves reached far inland as well.

Supply chain decision-makers are still managing modifications as recovery efforts continue. With what is shaping up to be potentially an even more volatile hurricane season this year, it is essential logistics leaders be as prepared as possible. Preparation isn’t limited to the coasts, either: Shippers, drivers, and warehouse managers inland can benefit from well-planned strategies they can quickly implement to respond to disasters — even through their unpredictability.

Logistics leaders can optimize these three areas of their supply chains to mitigate some of the long-term issues hurricanes cause:

1. Driving

As technology progresses, keeping drivers in the know continues to get faster and more accurate. Natural disasters and extreme weather impact the whole supply chain, but drivers face some specific issues that good planning can help alleviate. Alternate routes can minimize travel lag, and up-to-date travel information can help drivers make decisions on the go. Implementing real-time weather and road condition technology can empower drivers to make these decisions in real time.

2. Shipping

Shippers can also prepare in advance. In the days before they expect hurricanes, they can move products to safer storage locations, which will necessitate alterations to pickup and shipping routes. Ensuring products get to these destinations as quickly as possible is still paramount, but shippers will also likely need to alter routes to account for unusual and unpredictable pressures elsewhere in their supply chains. Products may become unavailable abruptly, so explore potential backup sources. Remember, too, that gas prices are likely to become unstable during and after disasters, so costs will probably fluctuate accordingly. An optimized supply chain can ease some of these unknowns and reduce strain.

For example, Hurricane Harvey’s effects necessitated the use of many refrigerated trucks, pressed into service to carry water and ice. This effort took those trucks out of regular route rotation and increased costs in worker hours as well as other resources. At the same time, hurricane-related issues made products and materials unavailable as produce withered and dry goods failed to stay dry. Power loss also had a substantial effect across the supply chain.

3. Warehousing

Inland warehouses can prepare for hurricane season by exploring relationships with warehouses likely to be impacted and forming partnerships to ensure safe storage. This may include additional areas requiring climate management and increased space needs as well as alterations to existing shipping plans.

No matter your role in the supply chain, being prepared for hurricane season makes good business sense. We have seen what lack of preparation can lead to, including years of recovery efforts on top of lost products, damage to warehouses, trucks off route or out of commission, soaring gas prices. When hurricanes hit, every aspect of business could be thrown into chaos — but, with a bit of preparation, it doesn’t have to be.

An efficient supply chain process is the key to thriving during hurricane season. Contact Next Generation Logistics online or give us a call at 847-963-0007 to maximize your supply chain management.