When it comes to shipping freight, challenging and bad weather can cause all kinds of shipping issues. Understanding how weather can affect your freight shipments will best prepare you for a smooth shipping experience and avoid harsh impacts to your supply chain and bottom line.
To help you plan ahead with the most relevant knowledge to hopefully avoid the most common issues that result from bad weather, we’ve put together the top five ways Mother Nature can wreak havoc on your shipments and the three questions you should be asking to be proactive in your operations.
Trucking and truck drivers are the backbone of the nation’s economy, getting goods where they need to be every day. But, they can’t do anything if the conditions on the road are unsafe for driving. Flooding, snow, and ice are more common concerns as we head into the months of October through March in North America.
Safety is always the top priority, for the drivers and the shipments, so hazardous road conditions are taken very seriously. Often, this means that alternate routes need to be taken, extending the transit time and delaying planned deliveries.
Similar to roads that encounter temporary closures or limited capacity due to severe weather, freight terminals are no different. Terminals may close completely, conduct limited operations, or experience massive slow downs because operations simply cannot move quickly.
Just as with the response to adverse road conditions, safety of the terminal facility itself, as well as the people working in the terminal, are top priorities. Restructuring at terminals is a common occurrence, especially when coupled with road conditions making it unsafe to get in and out.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, fires, and severe storms are capable of damaging power lines, communication channels, and critical infrastructure. When this happens, the relaying of vital information, like status updates on freight movement, can become difficult or even impossible to receive.
Additionally, on the ground operations can be affected. Terminals, ports, and gas stations in affected areas could be down for hours or possibly days. Tracking storm movements and severity can help mitigate much of these affects as you plan your shipments.
Guaranteed & Expedited Shipping
Opting for guaranteed or expedited shipping on your freight shipments is an additional cost that moves your shipment to the top of a carrier’s priority list for delivery. But, when unexpected and dangerous weather moves in, shipment transit times will be the first thing affected.
Working with a carrier who stays on top of weather conditions along the route of your shipment will help you determine whether spending money on these guarantees is worth it. And when it’s not, how to be able to best manage expectations and planning around estimated transit times.
Whenever inclement weather, severe storms, and harsh conditions impact trucks and drivers on the road, there will be fewer trucks and drivers available to keep normal operations moving. As trucks and drivers are kept out of the capacity pool due to flooding, terminal closures or power lines down on a major highway, the whole capacity network feels its effects.
And while it may seem that a storm on the other side of the country doesn’t directly impact you, it can still have considerable impact over your carrier options and rates.
Question to Ask to Best Prepare
While problematic weather will always be inevitable, there are ways you can plan ahead to mitigate the effects of these situations. At the forefront is always timing – it’s the most critical component of your best strategy. The earlier you look to reorganize and adjust your needs, the faster you can respond and keep your shipments moving. So consider the following:
- Are there consolidation opportunities you wouldn’t normally use that could open up a route for you?
- Can you restructure or repackage your freight to take advantage of multi-modal methods of transport and secure more capacity?
- What are the links between your inbound and outbound loads and how could you more efficiently manage those operations?
Keeping these questions in mind and having a plan in place can help calm the stress and headaches that arise when bad weather affects your logistics. And when the unbelievable happens, having the right logistics team on your side can be the difference between a little hiccup and a complete disaster. Finding solutions to overcome challenging weather conditions on your own can hijack entire days and weeks of your time, but at Pride Logistics, we take it all off your hands. Email us anytime, or call 800-796-5031, to have the smoothest shipment you’ve ever experienced.