In a global economy, business revolves around extraordinarily complex supply chains. Factor in the threats posed by extreme winter weather, and the stakes become higher. Winter storms and blizzards increased 303 percent globally and 216 percent in the U.S. from 2021 to 2022, according to the 2023 OnSolve Global Risk Impact Report. These severe storms can shut down plants, delay the transport of materials and goods, leave vendors without products and dissatisfy customers. Damage to the company’s reputation and lost revenue are just a few of the risks. That's why organizations need a reliable way to anticipate and manage crises that could impact the supply chain.
Increasingly, companies are following a more data-driven approach to gain greater control of their supply chains. But making sense of the volumes of data generated by the activities of numerous employees, partners, plants and processes extends beyond the analytical and processing capabilities of any human team, no matter how brilliant. AI-powered technology is the force multiplier that can bridge this gap.
Monitor and Adapt to Winter Weather
Supply chain managers need access to accurate winter weather intelligence before, during and after extreme weather events. This intelligence helps detect emerging storms so organizations can communicate the right messages to the right people along the supply chain and keep stakeholders aware and engaged.
Critical event management platforms collect and synthesize real-time weather data from sources like the National Weather Service to help answer crucial questions about:
- Employees and facilities: Which shifts may not make it to work due to dangerous driving conditions? Which plants, warehouses and distribution centers will be affected by a storm and when?
- Transport: What impact will a storm have on air, ground, freight and shipping carriers? Which delivery routes lie in the storm’s path?
- Partners: Which suppliers and upstream carriers will be affected? Which vendors and downstream carriers are in the storm’s trajectory?
Real-time risk intelligence also reports on current conditions and how they change from one moment to the next. Armed with this knowledge, those on the team charged with managing incidents can adjust their plans on the fly to address any unanticipated dangers caused by storms as they change direction or grow in intensity.
Discover best practices to follow before, during and after winter weather strikes to keep your people safe and operations running smoothly.
Communicate and Respond Strategically in a Crisis
Before winter arrives, management typically develops an employee communication strategy and contingency plans as part of its overarching winter weather response plan for improved employee safety. A best practice in preparing crisis communications is to script alert templates for multiple disaster scenarios and load them into a mass notification system, an integral component of today’s critical event management platforms.
Drawing from real-time weather and logistics intelligence, teams can then modify these templates quickly to target alerts about abrupt weather changes to their stakeholders. They can also geo-target additional members of the chain who suddenly find themselves in a storm’s path but may not have been on the original distribution list.
Real-time intelligence informs supply chain teams when changing conditions require a contingency plan. Ideally, crisis management technology will streamline the latest data into mass communications to guide employees and partners in how to best manage the incident. During a weather crisis, supply chain teams can use technology to keep operations running by:
- Tapping alternate suppliers: Global companies work with multiple suppliers to ensure a steady stream of raw materials. When a storm strikes, the company can contact suppliers less affected by the weather and ask them to increase the delivery of materials until normal operations are restored.
- Shifting production: After identifying a plant that must be closed due to a power outage or unsafe conditions, the team can boost capacity at plants outside the storm’s path to make up or minimize the shortfall.
- Filling emergency shifts: Teams can use automated quota calling and sequential calling to fill new shifts that have been added to sustain capacity.
- Rebalancing carriers: Most companies partner with a network of carriers to transport their products, which eliminates a single point of failure during extreme weather events. The supply chain team can alert less-impacted carriers and request a temporary boost in materials delivery to keep products flowing toward their destination.
Winter weather is costly – did you know winter storms cost an average of $4.4 billion per event in the U.S. in 2022? Contracting with alternate suppliers, carriers and even competitors often results in exorbitant fees during emergencies. With proper planning and the right crisis management solution, a manufacturer can avoid many of these costs.
Although extreme winter weather events will disrupt every supply chain, organizations that adopt an AI-powered critical event management platform can identify major storms before they happen and better prepare to achieve operational resilience and maintain business continuity.
Want to learn more? Read our Guide to Best Practices for Managing Winter
Weather Critical Events.