Why you should use meteorological data in your supply chain

Winter is coming, and it disrupts and influences supply chains globally on so many levels.

Trucks get stuck on congested, unplowed highways. Railroads can’t clear snow from the tracks fast enough for trains to get through. Snow and ice made it impossible for planes to safely land and take off. Like dominoes, one delay leads to another, disrupting supply chains across the country.

But how do you keep operations in sync during a storm or other heavy weather? How can you handle the weather’s impact on your supply chain? What happens if the apocalypse breaks out?

Unplanned downtime is extremely expensive for any business, especially as it’s uneconomical to hold excess contingency stock. Whether it’s a temporary economic slowdown, disruption of the electricity grid or devastated crops, the subsequent incorrect stock levels can effect costs and efficiencies across the whole supply chain.

Proactivity

These possible consequences could be disastrous, so developing a proactive plan is definitely a must. This way, you could diminish the level of risk a few days before the snowfall. For example by speeding up deliveries to distribution centres, asking suppliers if they should pull safety stock due to delays, rerouting impacted over-the-road shipments, etc.

Who could do what?

Proactive business continuity and transportation managers could avoid disruptions thanks to the coupling of early high confidence forecasts and an understanding of the high impact implications both upstream and downstream. Customer service managers and buyers could facilitate communications with retailers and shipped excess inventory early to make sure shipments aren’t getting stuck on roads and shelves don’t go empty when the crush of shoppers hit the store.

Meteorological data

Some companies are already experimenting with cognitive technologies to create sophisticated models that analyse huge troves of weather and location data. By combining weather data with advances in atmospheric and computational sciences, these systems produce more reliable weather forecasts, including the location-specific impact of storms, hurricanes and typhoons.  The use of these weather forecasts allows supply chains to more quickly anticipate and deal with extreme weather, which can wreak havoc on any supply chain.

Yet, a lot of companies do not use meteorological data in their supply chain. Instead of leaving things to chance, these should be considerations to make.