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How to Plan for Distribution Weather Woes

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Distribution Weather Woes 

Shipping delays are already at an all-time high due to the supply chain crisis. The last complication we need to add to the equation is volatile weather. Snowstorms, freezing rain, and thick fog compromise the roads during these winter months. When it comes to the supply chain, Mother Nature has the final say and she doesn’t care about order schedules.  

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has estimated that weather-related delays cost the trucking industry $8 billion to $9 billion annually. That’s no number to scoff at. But remember, the safety of your drivers and warehouse employees is priceless. So, when the roads get icy, here’s a smart plan:  

Stay Flexible

As storms and weather warnings are issued, don’t overreact. A clear head will help you navigate the delicate situation. Distributors should assess what orders they are waiting on and decide what should be prioritized. Everything else can wait. Over-communication doesn’t exist during a dangerous snowstorm. Communicate with all parts of your distribution team on travel updates, delays, and arrival times. 

Try a New Route

If you usually rely on a particular shipping route, trucking company, or shipping facility, now might be the time to try something new based on where the inclement weather is. A temporary change could get the otherwise impossible job done. Who knows, you may even discover you like something else better. 

Overplan

The best solution to inventory problems is always to plan ahead. This is trickier with weather-related issues but still doable. You know your area and what is typical during the winter months. Ask yourself if you need to order extra stock in February due to inevitable road closings. You won’t regret a bulkier order when you wake up snowed in one morning. 

If you’ve ever tried flying through Dallas in the summer or made vacation plans to Florida in early Fall, you know that Mother Nature can rear her head without consideration for your travel plans. The global distribution system is no different, and in many ways, more susceptible to weather disruption. Staying flexible, being open to new protocols, and planning ahead will help you handle radical changes in weather with grace. 

Make staying up to date on your area’s weather a daily habit. Get in the routine of looking at forecasts weeks ahead so you can avoid any surprises. Ultimately, planning and prioritizing important shipments will get you through the worst storm. Plus a pair of warm socks. 

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