Winter is upon us, and businesses throughout North America are running in high gear to meet end-of-the-year deadlines and to prepare for the new year. At the same time, the winter months can bring more volatility to your supply chain and shipping practices.
From blizzards to freezing ice, your business may encounter disruptions that are out of your control. Nonetheless, there are several steps you can take in order to minimize the imact that winter wheather will have on your company. Here's four key practices that you should utilize throughout the season.
(1) Don't Test Your Luck, Monitor The Weather
Stay informed of what the weather looks like several days in advance in your area. Just as importantly, keep an eye out for potential delay-causing weather along the routes that your shipments move.
Additionally, communicate with your carrier and transportation service providers directly. Many carriers provide a listing of service updates and will also notify you ahead of time by phone or email if they expect delays as a result of weather.
There are also numerous online resources that provide weather advisories and forecasts, including the National Weather Service, The Weather Channel, and AccuWeather. Use these free resources to help plan ahead as best as possible.
(2) Factor In Potential Disruptions Ahead Of Time
Your supply chain requires efficient planning year-round to ensure that your operations run smoothly. Winter, however, is the time of year that transportation disruptions are more likely to occur. Even if your business is located in an area that rarely sees snow or ice, you can still be affected when you have suppliers or customers in another region that is prone to wintry weather.
For that reason, take stock of your primary shipment origins and destinations, and plan accordingly:
- Coordinate with your colleagues to plan for adjusted lead times as a result of shipping delays.
- Consider using rail services on longhauls that go through regions that have a history of blizzards and weather-related disruptions.
- Work with your carrier to reroute freight to secondary locations or identify temporary warehousing solutions.
(3) Protect Sensitive Freight From Cold Temperatures
If you ship temperature-senstive products, such as chemicals, paints, and perishables, be aware that most dry trailers used for transportation do not provide protection from freezing weather.
If you do ship temperature-sensitive products during the winter, you can protect your freight with specialized trailers and equipment.
(4) Keep Your Dock Clear And Safe For Drivers
The most important thing you can do to winter-proof your business and supply chain is to not let your guard down when it comes to safety. Make sure your parking and dock areas are salted down ahead of impending snow or freezing rain. The last thing you or your carrier want is someone to get injured by slipping on black ice.
Putting these four practices into action, your supply chain will be able to survive the tests of Old Man Winter!