Thu | Jul 7, 2022

Securing your supply chain for the hurricane season

Published:Tuesday | June 7, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Supply chains across the world could be in for severe disruptions this hurricane season as storm activity is projected to be above average, with between 14 to 21 named storms.
Supply chains across the world could be in for severe disruptions this hurricane season as storm activity is projected to be above average, with between 14 to 21 named storms.

Is your business and its supply chain ready for what is expected to be another above-average hurricane season?

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began last Tuesday, June 1, and for all businesses which rely on the shipping industry for any of its input and inventory, it is important that you understand your supply chain needs to prepare for the season.

This involves having an appreciation of the network of people, companies and technologies involved in the production and distribution of your specific product.

Even without making landfall, the ripple effects of a storm can have significant impact on a business, as warehouses, ports, shipping routes and suppliers may be affected, which could impact delivery timelines, and operations at large.

Understanding your unique supply chain needs and anticipating possible disruptions are integral to minimising the potential impact of these natural events to your bottom line.

Even on an uneventful day, managing one’s supply chain is a complicated task. With unfavourable weather, this can become considerably more difficult. While much of the fallout is beyond the control of supply chain managers, preparing for eventualities where possible will aid in limiting risk and recovering faster.

For companies that stand to lose in the event of a hurricane, below are several ways in which they can secure their businesses and supply chains.

RISK ASSESSMENT

All companies stand to benefit from conducting a risk assessment, which looks at possible vulnerabilities of their respective providers in the supply chain that forms the basis of a preparedness plan. It is crucial for businesses to know which aspects of their supply chain is most susceptible to disruption. That evaluation will inform and guide decisions taken to introduce measures to mitigate the impact of storms during the hurricane season.

COMMUNICATION

Having clear and open lines of communication with your supply chain partners is critical for hurricane preparedness. Not only will this allow you to keep track of shipments for internal purposes, but it also facilitates the timely communication of information to customers, which can go a far way in managing their expectations, allaying fears, and building confidence in your company and its services. This responsiveness is key to supporting your supply chain and providing accurate lead times for everyone concerned.

INCREASED TECHNOLOGY USE

Investing in technology that provides real-time access and information, particularly during disruptions caused by natural disasters, will allow companies to address growing and emerging problems expeditiously. Being able to track multiple shipments and orders and receive accurate updates is essential to improved freight visibility and supply chain management.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN

Developing a strategy for the continued operation of your business is a consideration that needs to be done in advance of a hurricane, so that you are not scrambling to do so should the worst occur. The plan should be known to your team and includes, among other things, getting or reviewing insurance coverage, proposals for the resumption of business, and securing affected departments or locations from ensuing threats.

ALTERNATIVE SUPPLIERS

Hurricanes can unravel even the best-laid plans. As such, having options for suppliers, should your primary vendors be affected and unable to meet your needs, is important. Identifying and contacting these backup vendors must be done before a crisis, as it will be near impossible, and probably expensive, to do so during and after. What’s more, having additional vendors can make your business more responsive and keeps you abreast of competitive rates.

The current Atlantic hurricane season, which ends on October 31, is projected to have between 14 and 21 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes, including three to six major hurricanes, according to the United States-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Should that outlook hold, it would make 2022 the seventh consecutive above-average hurricane season.