Malfunctioning equipment and contagious viruses are not the only factors that can wreak havoc on supply chains. Businesses are also at risk when climate events occur, like tornados, hurricanes and floods.
Supply chain management teams should prepare for these events by assessing their organization’s vulnerabilities. Sheltering supply chain businesses from natural disasters in spring and summer is crucial to remain operational.
Read about the steps management can take to make this happen, like developing contingency plans, investing in technologies and enhancing communication abilities. Every effort minimizes potential risks when weather systems begin to form on the horizon.
Supervisors and business owners can streamline their efforts by assessing the current vulnerabilities at their workplace. Each enterprise has unique risk-prone areas due to factors such as the surrounding environment, location and the building’s construction.
When natural disasters take advantage of unrealized vulnerabilities, it puts more than production at risk. Transportation and suppliers must also work around the damage, which could mean production delays that put companies behind contractual obligations.
The potential loss of revenue can devastate production facilities before anyone calculates the repair fees for the physical damage. In 2022, natural disasters cost the U.S. $165 billion in damages, which economic experts say is a conservative estimate.
Assessing vulnerabilities before disaster strikes is crucial. Identify risk-prone areas like old roofs, water-damaged foundations and the surrounding environment to consider what winds and flooding would impact first.
Manufacturing facilities surrounded by tall trees would be more at risk of the trees falling in hurricane- or tornado-strength winds. Getting ahead of that vulnerability could involve removing the closest or oldest trees alongside investing in repair equipment like mulchers. A sizable mulcher would shred fallen trees so people could access the facility as soon as possible.
Once management teams understand where their facilities are most vulnerable, they can make necessary updates and investments to protect their business. They can also use the information to make vital response plans.
Developing Contingency Plans
There are numerous contingency plans to implement before spring and summer natural disasters occur. Production facilities should have immediate steps for team members to keep their doors open.
Assigning responsibilities like using an electric snow shoveler to blow snow off walkways after an early spring snowstorm ensures everyone can return to work. Other team members could pull storm shutters shut before a hurricane gets close or lock doors before sheltering in place during a tornado.
Facility managers should also create alternative plans for procurement, production and distribution. Natural disasters could delay production or damage supplier warehouses, necessitating buying from other procurement companies. Keeping a list of these backups could keep production on schedule.
Backup transportation routes would support distribution when roadways are flooded or inoperable due to downed power lines and trees. Identify key paths and their most apparent vulnerabilities, like tunnels or highways in flood hazard areas. Providing alternative routes to transportation partners could keep production on schedule even when natural disasters put major roadways out of use for days or weeks.
Enhancing Communication and Collaboration
The interconnected supply chain could collapse if suppliers and distributors are not up to date on a company’s natural disaster response strategies. Business owners and management teams should enhance their communication abilities to support continued collaboration after a weather event disrupts routine operations.
Warehouse management systems with private messaging abilities could become the first method of communication within supply chain partnerships. Suppliers and distributors would instantly check in with facilities after a natural disaster to understand how quickly their business can return to normal production.
Drafted emails and text messages will support continued collaboration as well. After surveying site damage and estimating production abilities, facility managers can send prepared emails and texts to operational partners. The information will update everyone on where the supply chain stands considering the damage so everyone knows what to expect during repairs in the following weeks.
Keeping customers informed is also crucial — social media can assist with that. Research shows that in 2021, 72% of American adults had at least one account on a social media network. Posting updates on the organization’s profile creates direct lines of communication with consumers regarding the business’s production and shipping abilities after a natural disaster.
Sending updates to newsletter subscribers can also reach customers who are off social media. Contact any in-house or external marketing teams to draft email notifications regarding delays in production or shipments. If disaster strikes, marketing team members will only have to send an email to update customers while everyone else focuses on getting operational again.
Investing in Technologies
Numerous digital tools exist to support brands before, during and after natural disasters. They create real-time visibility with partnered companies so everyone makes data-driven decisions when responding to warehouse damage or supply chain disruptions.
AI-powered software can track inventory and send automatic reports to suppliers while management teams respond to more pressing issues after a significant weather event. Installing software that works behind the scenes created a 1.4% global productivity spike for businesses worldwide. It keeps enterprises on schedule even when disruptions occur, making AI management software integral to preparing for natural disasters.
Technology upgrades also improve risk monitoring abilities. Management teams can make more informed decisions when real-time data streaming software relays information while backing up data to cloud networks. It is easier to plan for updated incoming and outgoing shipments because there is no lag between checking inventory and updating teams.
Modern tech reduces response time by providing constant, accurate information to management teams. When natural disasters cause property damage or disrupt shipments, having real-time data reduces potentially lost revenue by minimizing the odds of human error in communication and calculation.
Prepare for Natural Disasters
Spring and summer natural disasters are not something companies can hope to avoid. In a world with a warming climate, they are five times more likely than annual natural disasters 50 years ago. Business owners and management teams within supply chain operations must prepare for climate-related disasters before they occur.
Proactive planning is the best step for risk management strategists to take. Assess current vulnerabilities in manufacturing facilities, transportation methods and storefront locations. Investments could make those locations more resilient. Technology and tools also make disaster response more timely.
It’s also crucial to keep business partners and consumers updated after a catastrophic weather event. Organizations will withstand and recover from natural disasters more effectively when these efforts come together through updated contingency plans and investments.
Preparing for Spring and Summer Storms
Natural disasters have worsened over the years, so preparing for them ahead of time is essential. Use the above tips to flesh out a plan for keeping an organization safe when severe weather strikes. It is always a good idea to exercise caution when so much is at stake.