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3 Ways Your Supply Chain Can Be Affected By Natural Disasters

With a rise not only in natural disasters but their destructiveness, it’s more important than ever that your supply chain be able to respond to the unexpected.

Unplanned emergencies can not only hurt your retail customers, but they can also lead to major disruptions in the manufacture of goods that save lives and protect communities every day.

A lesson that all good fulfillment services can take from Hurricane Maria’s decimation of Puerto Rico in late 2017 is that there’s no way great way to plan for these kinds of disruptions, but having a smart supply chain that’s spread out can help keep vital products like pharmaceuticals in production regardless of the weather.

Your Supply Chain and Natural Disasters

When it comes to natural disasters, it’s always something. There’s a giant blizzard in New England or a volcano blowing its top in Hawaii or more hurricanes hitting Florida. You can’t stop them, but you can do better to protect parts of your supply chain from these costly events.

Although the ways that they can upset your supply chain are nearly unlimited, these three are very common situations you should have a plan in place for:

  • Shipment delays. Natural disasters are especially distressing because they can cause the closure of airports, shipping ports, and highways that may last for days or weeks.
    If you’re importing products from overseas, for example, you may be able to reroute your shipments ahead of these events or, at minimum, ensure that everyone further up the supply chain is prepared for a delay.
  • Manufacturing stoppage. Like with Hurricane Maria, natural disasters don’t discriminate between palm trees and manufacturing plants. Your supplier could easily be damaged so badly that production at that facility has to stop for a while, or even indefinitely.
    If you have another supplier located in a significantly different climate, it might pay to split your more vital orders between the two facilities. A lack of utilities and raw materials is unlikely to stop both your facilities at the same time.
  • Long-term infrastructure damage. Even if the storm, mudslide or forest fire leaves human and industrial elements mostly unscathed, infrastructure can take a beating.
    When the train tracks are damaged, your intermodal shipments can’t cross that portion of the route and will have to be rerouted, maybe hundreds of miles out of the way. Bridges that are questionable won’t be safe to send long-haul trucks over until they’ve been inspected.

Choosing a fulfillment service that can help you evaluate the situation and create alternate plans to get your products where they need to go can make all the difference when you’re trying to keep your supply chain running smoothly…no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

June 19, 2019
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