Preparing for Hurricane Dorian

We hope for the best for everyone in Florida as Hurricane Dorian makes landfall Monday. While we realize at this point there’s not much more that can be done to prepare, we wanted to share some information that might still be useful. In the end our biggest wish is that everyone remains safe and none of the details in this post are ever needed.

The powerful force that hurricanes bring to bare on a region can lead to incredible amounts of destruction.

Last year’s hurricane Michael left over $25B in damage in its wake, and it’s predicted that hurricane Dorian, currently bearing down on the Florida coast, could cause $15B in losses as a category three storm.

Supply chain managers should therefore do everything in their power to protect their employees, as well as prepare and plan for the massive disruptions that Dorian will bring to Florida’s supply chain.

Physical assets and facilities that face the most risk include:

  • Inventory: Any inventory sitting in warehouses or in transit runs the risk of being damaged, destroyed, or rerouted due to potential supply chain impacts that can reverberate through the entire global supply chain.
  • Corporate Offices: Corporate decision making and day-to-day processes will be negatively affected by infrastructure damage, lack of utilities, and employees being unable to come to work.
  • Ports and Warehouses: These are usually built on low land near the ocean and therefore face the brunt of a hurricane’s force.
  • Transportation Routes: Water and rain can flood over road surfaces, major highways, and railroad routes. 
  • Bridges: Water and wind can the erode foundations of decaying US infrastructure.

Many, if not most, factors in a hurricane are uncontrollable. Even so, there are a few things that supply chain managers can do to prepare:

  • Keep Safe: Listen to emergency services for updates and make sure your people are safe. If you’re told to evacuate or avoid an area, then do so. Safety is the most important concern for everyone involved.
  • Awareness: Identify the facilities and suppliers that are most at risk of being damaged or disrupted.
  • Contingency Planning for Facilities: Based on the vulnerabilities that have been found, supply chain managers must have emergency plans in place for high risk facilities and infrastructure. For example, using temporary warehouse services, increasing production at safe facilities, and using 3PLs outside of potential disaster areas can help in mitigating the effects of a disaster.
  • Contingency Planning for Orders: Supply chain managers must also have emergency plans for, and the ability to reroute, upgrade, or downgrade shipments to match customer expectations. This will require agile solutions with good visibility into your inventory, order, and shipping data.
  • Distributed Inventory: Maintaining your inventory in different geographic locations, or across a number of disparate suppliers, will help lessen the impact of any one disaster completely disrupting your supply chain.
  • Distributed Services: As with distributed inventory, it’s important to have other service providers lined up in case primary providers are not functioning after a hurricane. Ground and air transportation, fuel suppliers, warehousing and storage, vehicle providers, materials suppliers, etc . . . should all have secondary backups.
  • Coordination: You should ensure that every provider in your supply chain has emergency plans developed in advance of a disaster, and that you are aware of what they are.

Recovery 

For supply chain managers it’s imperative that they are able to resume normal operations as soon as possible after a hurricane. Not doing so could lead to major losses in revenue which will in turn affect the wages and jobs of employees, especially in the affected areas. More importantly, well-prepared supply chains will be key for helping everyone survive and recover in a storm’s aftermath.

It’s not possible to control for every eventuality during a hurricane but having an emergency plan in place can increase the speed by which your supply chain recovers. This will be a huge help to your company, your employees, and the people of the region.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Florida this Labor Day weekend.

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