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Despite the ever-shifting weather and seasonal trends over the past decade, thanks to both the ongoing presence of El Nino or the more immediate effects of climate change, a sudden change in weather conditions can still have a massive impact on logistics. 

From the manufacturing process to the transportation and storage of goods, your supply chain is susceptible to delays and mishaps due to inclement weather. However, with a little foresight and planning, your supply chain can more quickly recover from issues brought on by inclement weather. That is, as long as you know how the weather could affect you.


Supply Chain Issues Brought On By Inclement Weather Changes


Manufacturing equipment breakdowns: The presence of excess heat can be risky and difficult to prevent for both the equipment used in manufacturing as well as your workers. Many different steps along the manufacturing process rely on specific conditions to ensure quality products and continued mechanical functioning, and when these conditions are exceeded, the resulting issues can lead to delays in production and delivery – delays that can affect the whole logistics process.

How to prevent it: If your facility is involved in the manufacturing of goods that require temperature-sensitive machinery (or the manufacturing of climate-sensitive goods like electronics), then make sure to create a strict regimen of preventative maintenance combined with a constant vigilance on upcoming weather conditions to get out in front of issues. For warehouses that simply store, sell, or transport goods made with this equipment, having a backup plan is key. Make sure to have backup sources for each of these goods, and whenever possible, try to source them from different parts of the world – if your two main suppliers are in a similar geographical location, weather issues facing one of them are bound to impact the other. (And make sure to have some extra space on your warehouse pallet racking for these backup shipments as needed!)


Delivery delays: As dangerous as warm weather could be on your supply chain, the reverse is true too. Snowfall of any kind can make it harder for trucks, trains, or even freighters to get to their destination on time, and while worker safety is always paramount, these delays can still impact your overall operations. And when the products don’t show up on time, it can be tough for everyone.

How to prevent it: Safety stock is crucial here. Get in the habit of over-ordering popular goods that tend to encounter weather delays, paying special attention to any of your suppliers that are more likely to work in an area affected by frequent snowfall along their shipping routes. Consider keeping this overstock on separate metal shelves or high-density storage shelves to give them a safe place to stay that won’t get confused with the more frequently-needed goods.


Restricted shipping lanes: El Nino in particular has been wreaking havoc on the maritime sector in recent years. Due to the difficult-to-predict nature of the rainfalls it may (or may not!) bring, many major shipping lanes across the world have been forced to reduce shipping lanes due to drought or strong waves. For any business that relies on parts, materials, or completed goods that need to be shipped via sea, these restrictions can cause major delays and disruptions across every part of the ordering process.

How to prevent it: While there’s not much you can do to control the flow of water, or the canals’ reactions to it, you can take steps to prevent the supply chain issues that result. Set more generous lead times and stock levels when it comes time to reorder these items; even if you don’t need them yet, you will by the time it arrives, thanks to the unpredictable nature of these delays. 


Internal temperature regulation: Heatwaves are becoming more common all across the world, even in areas that weren’t exactly known for having warm weather beforehand (like here in Michigan), and these can have a double effect on your warehouse or facility. Not only does this make it tougher to store certain goods, like perishables, pharmaceuticals, or sensitive electronics, it can also create a health and safety risk for your entire team.

How to prevent it: The only way to beat the heat is to make sure there’s areas set up with greater temperature control. Set up temperature-controlled areas to keep your goods that need to be stored under a certain temperature, and make sure to use freezer shelving to keep these goods (and your storage!) safe. Take the same care for your team members – provide plenty of breakrooms and modular offices with ample ventilation, and let them take regular breaks as needed to escape the harder conditions.


Hopefully, with a few of these tips, your warehouse will be better prepared for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way, this year or beyond!


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