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No matter how well prepared your warehouse is for potential disasters of all kinds, emergency situations can begin to impact many different facets of the warehousing business.

Some of the most vulnerable areas of warehousing operations during an emergency of any kind are the supply chain, and/or any related logistics. Even in these days of ecommerce and near-immediate delivery, difficulties in transporting goods over large distances can begin to have massive ripple effects across the entire warehousing business – effects that your warehouse may be unprepared for.

Delayed, damaged, or lost shipments can have a massive effect on your ability to fulfill orders, your ability to keep customers satisfied, and your bottom line period. While some emergencies, disasters, and accidents may be unavoidable, it’s still important to take steps towards reducing the impact these events can have on your supply chain and your warehouse overall.

The first step is to always maintain communication with your logistics providers. Whether you need parts to manufacture the goods yourself, or you need your vendors to supply needed items to fulfill orders, your logistics providers are the backbone of all that you do in your warehouse. By maintaining communication with them during times of normal operation, you’ll have a clearer line of contact during emergencies so you can get updates on ever-changing situations and work to identify solutions.

Another ongoing step you can take to stay prepared is to identify all potential supply chain risks. You can get a better idea of what steps may need to be taken if you take the time to figure out what your greatest potential trouble spots are. Do you have trucks that may be slowed down by inclement weather or some kind of natural disaster? Are some of your parts or items being shipped from an area impacted by widespread disease or illness? Take the time to understand where these problems can come from, and tape steps to create plans to compensate for them.

Your next step should be more internal: create, practice, and implement an emergency plan. Item shortages can be dealt with in a number of ways – do you have other vendors you can talk to? Do you have a way of managing orders that may be impacted by supply chain issues or missing items? Make sure these plans are communicated to any potential worker that may need to know them, including both office staff and shop floor personnel.

Supply chain emergency preparedness doesn’t just stop at items you haven’t received yet, either. Make a plan to distribute existing products appropriately during emergencies. Take some extra warehouse shelving or space on your pallet racking to gather items that could be impacted by these emergencies, and figure out how to distribute them. Orders for larger amounts of product could be prioritized given the remaining capabilities of your supply chain, and stored until they can be safely sent out to fulfill any outstanding requests.

With a little foresight and patience, your warehouse can wait out any potential supply chain emergency. Just remember to be open and communicative with your customers and vendors, and nobody will be caught off-guard.

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