2020 will undoubtedly go down in the history books – and it’s not over yet. We are rolling right on into hurricane season, and the 2020 hurricane season is predicted to be very active. It’s a different kind of disruption because we can see when a hurricane is coming as opposed to a pandemic that no one could have predicted. As we know, when it comes to keeping your small business shipping smoothly, it’s important to have a plan, including a disaster recovery plan. There are many things that could potentially slow or even halt your normal shipping operations, so planning ahead for disasters and other problems helps you mitigate supply chain disruptions and keep your shipments moving as close to on schedule as possible. Extreme weather affects every sector of the supply chain but knowing what to expect helps ease the stress. Here are some tips for shipping during hurricane season to help you protect your shipments and make sure your customers’ needs are met.
Start a Shipping Strategy
While a comprehensive shipping strategy can take time to develop, you can start with the disaster recovery portion of your strategy first because it will focus on how you can reduce downtime and keep your shipments moving in the event of a disaster, such as a hurricane or other weather-related events. Here are some key pieces to think about as you put together your disaster recovery plan:
- Budget – You want to know what you have in your budget to manage unexpected events. What are the costs associated with quickly adapting to a disaster? How much might it cost to address any structural damage to your facility? Always save for a rainy day, both literally and figuratively.
- Resources – This includes both people resources and physical resources. Will you need your employees to tackle additional tasks outside of their normal routine? Will you need to have an extra warehousing solution ready should your facility be compromised?
- Insurance coverage – Have your insurance paperwork readily available and go over it with your management staff. What level of coverage do you have? Will you need to increase your coverage? Learn about freight insurance and how it can work for you.
- Technology – You and your team likely use different types of technology, such a tracking or inventory technologies. What technology is most important to have up and running during a disaster situation? A transportation management system (TMS) might come in handy.
- Suppliers – Every small business relies on suppliers. Who are your business’s most important suppliers? Have you reached out to your suppliers to ask how they plan to handle disaster situations?
- Compliance requirements – Certain businesses must remain in compliance in order to operate or to ship their products both domestically and internationally. Do you have any regulations or compliance requirements you must follow? If so, how will you ensure your business remains compliant during a disaster?
- Data – All business have a certain amount of protected data they need to keep secure. How will you keep your data secure and accessible to the people who need it?
- Customers – You have customers, and you want to make sure you can meet their needs. How will you alert your customers of delays in the event of a disaster? Who will be your dedicated customer service representatives who assist customers after the disaster has passed? Will you need to add customer service representatives during this time?
- Shipping – Even during a disaster, you have products that need to be shipped to your customers. Do you have a shipping partner to help you find alternative shipping solutions? Consider partnering with a third-party logistics company (3PL) to expand your supply chain.
Shipping During Hurricane Season Tips
Hurricane season is among one of the hardest times of year for the logistics industry. That’s because a hurricane can cause a great amount of disruption and damage, and it can take time for roads, runways and seaports to reopen. While it’s impossible to control the weather, you can plan ahead to reduce disruptions to your supply chain. Here are some hurricane season shipping tips to get you started:
Identify Supply Chain Risks
Identify what parts of your supply chain could be at risk. Don’t just think about your business by itself, but instead, think about all parts of the larger supply chain your business relies on. This includes things like road and port closures, airline closures, changes in distribution routes, flooding in warehouses, lower shipping volumes, delayed travel times, increases in shipping rates, capacity issues, problems shipping temperature-controlled freight, cell and internet service disruptions and more.
Make a Plan
Put together a plan that goes through different hurricane shipping disaster scenarios and see how the plan holds up. If you find holes on the plan, address them right away.
For example, if you have a shipment scheduled to ship to a location under the threat of a hurricane and roads are being closed ahead of time, are there other shipping methods you can utilize? In this case, can you ship your freight via air instead of road?
Even with the best plans, hurricanes and other weather-related issues can significantly delay freight shipping. Do you need to alert the customer that, due to weather-related road closures, the expected shipment date must be pushed back? Alerting the customer as early as possible will help everyone stay on the same page and remain in good communication.
Communicate your plan with your supply chain partners and employees. Everyone needs to know their role in the process, where to direct questions or concerns and what to do after the storm passes.
Look at Storm and Shipping Data
Once the storm is over, review how well your business handled the disaster. What parts of your disaster plan worked well? What parts didn’t? What can you do differently to be better prepared for the next storm?
Look at all the data you have available to you. How many shipments were completed on time and how many were delayed? Were any lost in transit due to the storm? Using all the information you have will help you enhance you shipping strategy for better performance.
Partnering with an Expert
When it comes to shipping during hurricane season, having an expert shipping partner to help you navigate around challenges and help develop your shipping strategy becomes more important than ever. Working with a 3PL, like FreightCenter, gives you access to an innovative transportation management system that centralizes your shipping department. Our communications keep you updated on terminal closures and delays in specific areas and our agents are ready to help make alternative shipping arrangements to lower the occurrence of delayed shipments.