Bad weather is pretty much inevitable, and although we can’t tell for sure when or where it might strike, we can at least fortify our supply chains as much as possible by being aware, prepared, and proactive, particularly as we’re entering the most disruptive months of the year.
Logistics services and bad weather conditions
Bad weather and logistics services don’t go well together, and weather can have a devastating effect on business. According to the Environmental Agency, the floods of 2012 cost the UK economy 12 billion. And considering some types of extreme weather are becoming more fierce and frequent, concern is high among logistics services business leaders. Weather can cause havoc to the complexities of a supply chain, and a domino affect can bring operations to a standstill. The 2011 floods in Thailand disrupted international supply chains and brought considerable damage to the logistics of many British companies. Honda had to cut production in half at its Swindon branch, and delay the launch of a new model.
It’s true, the best attack is defence. Simply being aware of the likely impact bad weather could have on all components of the supply chain, and their relationships to one another, can considerably improve the chances of overcoming challenges. Knowing exactly how a part of the business fits in logistically makes you more likely to be able to be creative and flexible when it comes to solving weather problems.
Safety is key, and one of the most common problems a supply chain may face is simply deciding whether to operate in bad weather. Always put your own safety first, and it’s important to voice any concerns you have. Remember that the conditions you’re experiencing may not be shared by other areas of the business, and it’s important to feel as though you can adjust your own plans. If possible, working from home may be the only option, so ensure you have everything you need to do so.
Communication is the way to minimise disruption to your logistics services and supply chain
If conditions are turning bad then it’s essential you let whoever might be affected know. Although we aim to avoid the knock-on effect of pausing or delaying operations, a few phone calls may be the best we can do in extreme circumstances. Even if normal service can’t be delivered, we can still perform to usual high standards by letting customers and colleagues know the situation, and how and when it can be solved.
Even before bad weather starts rolling in, it’s important to think flexibly, and plan safe alternative ways of operating. Is it possible to take a different route or adjust delivery times? What effects will snow, ice, wind and other weather elements have? Having a plan ready to implement saves a lot of time. Be prepared to think creatively, and look at how other supply chains are coping. Again, being aware of impending trouble is essential. Remember to think about any potential weak spots, and how they can be protected now, and fixed later. Is stockpiling a good or bad idea? What affect will heavy rain have on warehouses? Consider the knock-on effect of weather conditions in other parts of the country, and how that may affect different links of the supply chain.
Knowing how to handle challenges before they happen is a huge advantage, but bad weather management is also about knowing how to deal with uncertainty. Waiting for a weather report can be a nerve-racking experience, so everything you can do to prepare beforehand will take the pressure out of the situation. Your experience and knowledge of your role makes you best qualified to deal with bad weather conditions, and if every part of the supply chain is well-prepared, we can quite literally weather out the storm.