For shippers, this year’s overly-active hurricane season in the US is raising alarm bells for supply chain logistics operations. The enormous disruption to all manner of commodities production and deliveries has wide ranging ramifications for high volume-shipping industries across many verticals. Here are some grim statistics illustrating the significant disruptions created by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. With Hurricanes Jose and Maria still bearing down on the Caribbean, its time to consider some critical ways a strong transportation logistics program helps smart shippers literally weather these storms and maintain efficient operations in their wake.
These are but a few examples of the overwhelming list of disruptions and breakdowns in the wake of recent hurricanes:
- Hurricane Harvey reportedly disrupted or shut 13 refineries, causing U.S. gasoline production capacity to drop by 10%. All shippers are affected by this – fuel being integral to everything from agricultural production to actual freight movement.
- Damage to sugar cane fields in Florida which produce nearly a quarter of U.S. sugar will impact food and beverage production later in 2017 as the harvest is due to begin on 1 October and the full implications of the loss are yet to be measured.
- In North Carolina, the second largest producer of hogs and turkeys in the United States, cotton plants were threatened and livestock operators have been stockpiling feed in the face of possible supply disruptions should roads be damaged badly.
- Houston, one of the top six freight transportation hubs in the US is still struggling to recover and this affects the distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Rio Grande Valley. Spot rates from Texas to other states have spiked and delays are the order of the day.
These disruptions impact industries as diverse as food production to manufacturing to retail and many others. It continues to be those organizations with flexible, responsive transportation logistics planning and execution functions that are better equipped to adapt than those without. How do TMS platform and other transportation logistics & supply chain solutions help shippers overcome the challenges posed by natural disasters like the hurricanes of 2017?
- Reduced exposure to the spot market – especially when spot rates spike during times of extreme demand
- Improved carrier relationships built upon sound carrier management practices supported by TMS tools provide stronger relationships a shipper can lean on when it becomes necessary to seek alternative lanes to move freight around disaster areas
- Robust optimization capabilities enabling quick adaptation to changes in routes, carriers and shipment sequences, helping keep delivery times low
- Advanced, automated scheduling capabilities enable shippers to better plan deliveries and avoid long detention/dwell times when chaos roils supply chains for others