It’s been quite a year for natural disasters, from Tropical Storms Cindy and Emily and the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate, a massive earthquake in Mexico to wildfires ravaging a huge portion of Northern California. 2017 will be one for the history books. These aptly named disasters take a huge toll on us a society, with the loss of human life, property, time, billions of dollars in damage and the disruption of everyday life. Roads become clogged with evacuees, ports are bottlenecked and chances are your supply chain saw some sort of disruption.

As far as we’re aware, no one can predict the future and natural disaster preventative technology doesn’t exist quite yet. So without any further ado, here are our recommended 4 steps to dealing with the effect of natural disasters on your supply chain.

  1. Get Organized Have a specific committee or team within your organization with detailed documentation and established guidelines dictating the supply chain emergency operations plan. This way your organization will be prepared to respond during these events and assess the level of supply chain disruption. If this isn’t an option for your organization, it may be a good time to consider a 3PL who is equipped to mitigate any disruption.
  2. Be Transparent Communication is the key to happiness. The last problem you need during a natural disaster is a lack of communication and uncertainty in your decisions and processes. This leads to even more chaos and can be avoided if the proper procedures are in place and messaging is prepared in advance. Your partners, suppliers, customers and internal staff will appreciate your openness and clarity.
  3. Embrace Agility Be willing to introduce some flexibility into your supply chain, because the need will arise where you need to reroute suppliers and make schedule changes. Consider building some redundancy in your network of suppliers so materials and other products needed are coming from different geographic areas. Implementing these contingencies could help keep your company productive and profitable.
  4. Be Proactive Some disasters we can see coming, some we can’t. Either way it’s important to be proactive in order to reduce the impact on your business and your customers. A few things to consider – Do you have alternative access to fuel? How would you handle an immediate shortage of drivers? Invest in a TMS that can help with rerouting freight in transit and shifting modes to ship inventory on hand.
Even the best managed companies can’t avoid unexpected risks but you can develop a crises plan that identifies potential risks in the event of a natural disaster, assess how likely it is to affect your business and determine actions needed to mitigate the risk. If it’s time to redesign your supply chain, consider a 3PL with a proven track record to deliver an economical proof of concept that fits your business needs.