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Disasters these days can take many forms, even for warehouses.

Natural disasters, illness pandemics, and even forms of cyber warfare and infrastructure attacks can all have a major impact on our lives and work, and this goes double for warehouses.

Warehouses are vulnerable at many points across their chain of command, particularly when it comes to the supply chain. Due to the various moving parts and factors involved, a disaster affecting any step in the supply chain or logistics process can have a massive impact on the entire supply chain and, as a result, your warehouse.

While there’s nothing we can do to prevent these sorts of disasters or emergencies, we can – and should – take steps to mitigate their impact both before and during any sort of national crisis. By creating a plan and communicating with your team, both in the warehouse and involved in your supply chain, you can recover from supply chain disasters more quickly and effectively:

Identify Supply Chain Risks

When preparing for a supply chain emergency, the first step should be to identify the highest potential risks. Do you have products that get shipped in from a part of the world that’s at risk for being shut down due to illness, or frequently affected by weather and other natural disasters? Do you have trucks coming from another state that faces a lot of inclement weather? Do certain products you carry face shortages more often than others? Marking these steps in the supply chain as potential areas of risk, or at any step in your logistics process can help you predict and prepare for potential hazards.

Identify Necessary Resources

From there, you should be able to quickly mark and identify which of your resources can be best leveraged in the event of an emergency. Do you have another vendor that can supply needed inventory in the event of a crisis? Can you leverage a relationship with a different logistics specialist to ensure deliveries can continue, in the event that your primary partner is rendered unable to complete their deliveries? This goes for internal resources as well; by setting aside warehouse shelving for emergency deliveries and product overages, you can keep your internal workflows running smoothly even during a supply chain crisis.

Prioritize Visibility

Not only can maintaining visibility help during a supply chain crisis, it can also help things flow more smoothly even during times of comparative normalcy. Keep open communication with all your vendors, even the ones that can’t perform deliveries due to emergencies. When possible, especially for direct-to-consumer business, do the same with your clients – a well-informed and frequently-updated customer is one that’s more likely to stick around after the emergency has ended.

Constant Monitoring

During any kind of supply chain disaster, the biggest mistake you can make is to step back until ‘things are normal again’. Even if you’re frustrated by the lack of change or progress, regularly-scheduled updates from your providers and reviews of crucial metrics (on-hand inventory, expected delivery dates, etc) can give you, your staff, and your clients the best idea of where things are, what you can get done for now, and when you might just be able to get everything back to normal.

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