Natural disasters are becoming more common, but with some proactive measures, shippers can maintain an effective supply chain capable of weathering any storm.

The past few months have witnessed a rash of natural disasters that have disrupted shipping systems throughout the United States. In total, Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, Jose, and Maria caused over $200 billion worth of damage to property, crippling the Gulf Coast’s infrastructure and derailing trade throughout the country and across the globe. Hurricane Harvey alone affected up to 10% of U.S. trucking capacity, reducing trucking runs in the Houston area by more than 80% and stranding several cargo ships out in the Gulf of Mexico.

With so many moving parts, supply chains are at particular risk in the face of a natural disaster. As we’ve seen so often this year, major storms can disable ports and runways, delay or divert deliveries, and damage needed infrastructure. Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility that another hurricane will strike as hurricane season ends, and shippers will need to grapple with winter storms soon. As a result, shipping and freight companies would do well to adopt practices that allow them to weather the storm. You can help your company prepare for the worst by taking these precautionary measures.

Plan Ahead to Keep Things in Motion

It’s crucial that companies use their knowledge of current market conditions to better prepare themselves for any scenario. With some awareness of current demand, for example, retailers and other shippers can pre-order needed products and strategically stockpile them for later distribution. This forward-thinking approach enables companies to continue fulfilling customer’s orders, even in the face of a major weather event that temporarily cuts them off from their supplier.

In addition, companies can ensure their inventory’s safety by rerouting it in advance of an expected storm. If you store the majority of your goods in Tampa, for example, you could send some of your stock to Atlanta for temporary storage until the storm has passed, avoiding damage to the products and ensuring you can continue fulfilling orders that come in from unaffected areas.

Information Flow is Key

While transparency is always important, it’s particularly critical during extreme weather. In order to mitigate fallout, communication needs to be streamlined across the entire supply chain, keeping the company abreast of vital information and updates about unexpected delays or changes in delivery schedule. They also need to proactively communicate with customers, suppliers, and other supply chain stakeholders to notify them of transportation interruptions or irregularities. Open communication in situations like these keeps all parts of the supply chain on the same page, eliminating the need for guesswork and minimizing stress.

Keep Your Customers Happy

Most importantly, companies must prioritize customer service whenever disasters strikes. Your customers or trading partners will inevitably have questions about the status of their goods during a storm — even in the face of interruptions and delays, swift and transparent communication will likely keep your customers from abandoning ship.

Experienced shipping specialists are an invaluable resource during these times. Logistical expertise and extensive trading networks enable them to identify possible workarounds to storm-related challenges quickly and efficiently, and when no alternatives exist, they’re plugged into the right communication channels and tracking systems to keep tabs on each shipment as well as status updates from relevant port, roadway, and airports authorities. In turn, this allows you to keep your customers informed as well, thereby keeping potential concerns and frustrations at bay.

The Primary Promise

With nearly 20 years of experience under our collective belt, we at Primary Freight have certainly seen our fair share of storms. And while we certainly can’t control the weather, we can control our customers’ experience during and following an extreme weather event. From finding alternate shipping routes, to preparing your supply chain in advance of a storm, to ensuring you have the information regarding the status of your cargo exactly when you need it, our team has the necessary experience and dedication to help you weather any storm as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

If you’d like to learn more about Primary Freight, contact us today (800)-635-0013.