Although winter is the darkest, bleakest season in the UK calendar, it doesn’t have to all be doom and gloom.
This time of year can have a negative effect on transportation in the business supply chain. We’ve all witnessed for ourselves the severe disruption that can be caused by a period of bad weather here in the UK. A cold snap of snow and ice leads to impassable or congested roads and prevents planes from landing and taking off, whilst high winds and fog hold operations at ports.
Delays in transportation have a knock on effect within the supply chain, from the supply of materials to manufacturers, to delays on stock supplies for the end consumer.
Thankfully extreme patterns of weather are rare in the UK. However, globally, the climates of some other countries means that typhoons and hurricanes are annual occurrences. When delays occur, capacity shortages arise and as such, rates increase. Similarly the cost for raw materials rise when in short supply.
Although difficult to pre-empt exactly what the weather holds in store for us, there are some steps that you can take to alleviate the pressures faced by your supply chain when the unpredictable hits:
Earlier booking for goods
By booking transportation requirements in advance, you can beat the rush and guarantee your space over other shippers.
Arrange earlier arrival dates than required
If you can provide an extra week’s leeway on your product transportation, then should delays occur, deliveries should still arrive on time. Of course, if there are no delays on the transit of the shipment, then you will need to account for the additional storage requirements (and any relative costs). Weigh up the benefits of hitting delivery deadlines to the costs involved.
Have flexibility in your supply chain
If there is a delay in goods from your suppliers due to weather conditions, is it possible to source goods from alternative suppliers? Having a selection of suppliers enables you to continue to operate an efficient supply chain if one of your suppliers is unable to commit to a delivery deadline.
Seek alternative modes of transport or transport routes
Are your goods time critical? If you find yourself in a situation where you are shipping by ocean and sailings are delayed due to poor weather conditions, look to see whether it’s worth moving that shipment to air. Also, explore alternative transport routes. Ports and airports in one area of a country maybe severely affected by weather, but it may be possible to transport these goods via road or rail to an alternative destination in the country that is not experiencing difficulties with departures.
As well as taking into account transportation issues in adverse weather, across some industries weather influences purchase patterns. For example, in periods of snow, there is an increase in demand from consumers for grit, shovels, scrapers, warm clothing and candles. Providers of goods in these categories are able to capitalise on the profitability available from this demand if able to get extra stock to retailers in time.
For advice on the best fit for your supply chain, in being ready for winter, please get in touch.