Whether you live in the South and deal with heavy rain or live in the Northeast and blizzards are the norm for several months out of the year, we’re all affected when bad weather hits. When it comes to shipping freight, bad weather can cause all kinds of shipping issues from delays to increased costs – none of which are good for your business. Understanding how weather can affect your freight shipment gives you the knowledge you need to plan ahead and possibly avoid some of the common issues that result from bad weather. Below are 5 ways weather can affect your freight shipment and how you can be ready for what Mother Nature throws at your supply chain.
5. Road Conditions
Trucking and truckers are the backbone of the American economy, but they can’t do anything if the road conditions aren’t safe. If flooding or too much snow accumulates on the road, road closures could happen. That means an alternative route needs to be taken, which could possibly extend transit time. As frustrating as that is for all parties involved, safety is the top priority when it comes to truckers on the road. Keeping truckers safe also means that your freight shipment is kept safe, even though hazardous road conditions might delay delivery times.
Hauling an 18-wheeler weighing 4 tons while carrying thousands of dollars of products in the trailer can be stressful in itself. When you add in poor visibility, traction issues, braking quickly, and other drivers on a dangerous road, the drivability of freight trucks gets trickier.
Much like roads that may be closed temporarily or are open with limited capacity due to abnormal weather, freight terminals are no different. Terminals may either close completely or conduct limited operations. This isn’t just for the safety of the facility itself, but for the people who are working in that terminal keeping it operational. Safety is top priority for everyone involved. If the terminal has limited access during bad weather, it means that some shipments will go out, but shipments could be delayed. Terminal closures occur when it’s too dangerous for anyone to be working at the freight terminal or to be driving on the roads.
3. Guarantees and Expedited Shipping
Opting for guaranteed or expedited shipping services is an additional cost which puts your shipment at the top of carriers’ priority lists. But, when unexpected, dangerous weather comes along and disrupts the timing of your shipment’s transit, nothing is guaranteed anymore. Remaining cognizant of weather conditions along the route your shipment is taking helps you plan whether or not you should spend money requesting these services and helps you manage your expectations in terms of estimated transit times.
2. Power Outages
If the power goes out, the freight world can’t do much. Hurricanes, tornadoes, severe blizzards, and other forms of extreme natural disasters damage infrastructure, power lines, communication channels, and more. That makes it difficult to do things that are vital during the freight shipping process like getting updates and statuses on your freight. Additionally, truckers can’t fill up at gas stations in an impacted area, and it becomes a big mess. Working with a 3PL can help you mitigate some of these headaches by giving you access to powerful transportation management software that can help you track your shipment. Additionally, many 3PLs keep track of inclement weather for their customers, keeping you in the loop no matter the circumstances.
1. Capacity Limitations
When a natural disaster or other forms of inclement weather impact trucks on the road, that means there are less trucks available to conduct normal operations. A traffic jam on a major highway due to too much snow or flooding or a driver having to take a different route’ than expected keeps trucks and truckers out of the capacity pool. So, a storm across the country that may not have directly impacted you could have some kind of influence over your carrier options and rates.
Weathering the Storm
When the unprecedented happens, you need to be able to adapt quickly so your supply chain can operate at full capacity. Finding solutions while overcoming inclement weather is a challenge to do on your own. That’s why partnering with a third-party logistics company (3PL) like FreightCenter can help you weather the storm. With the help of a powerful transportation management system (TMS) which can not only centralize your search for carriers and lanes optimized to fit your shipment, but can also update you on the status of your shipments if any troubles occur, your supply chain can weather any storm that comes its way.