The UK is facing the coldest March since 2010, with low temperatures, snow and strong winds set to hit in the coming days. In addition to travel delays on roads, cancellations and delays to rail and air transport, as well as power outages, such extreme weather conditions also pose a serious threat to supply chains. Resilinc, the world’s leading supply chain mapping and risk monitoring solution, is urging businesses to better prepare for future weather extremes by outlining five ways to prepare supply chains for severe weather.
With climate change affecting all parts of the globe, weather-related events are becoming more and more frequent, and they show no sign of slowing down. In 2022, Resilinc’s risk event monitoring platform, EventWatchAI, saw an increase of 36% year-on-year in the number of extreme weather events. Moreover, severe weather was the 11th highest reported supply chain disruption last year.
While it’s impossible to predict exactly when extreme weather will strike, Bindiya Vakil, founder and CEO of Resilinc, is urging businesses to take steps to better prepare for and minimise its impact. “Having a proactive plan is key to surviving and thriving, even in the most adverse weather conditions. By mapping and monitoring supply chains for full subtier visibility, businesses will be better prepared should climate driven extremities impact their operations. With climate change a burgeoning issue, now is the time to take the necessary steps to stay ahead of any unforeseen circumstances and minimise disruption impact,” explains Bindiya.
With over one million supplier sites mapped to date, Resilinc recommends five ways to get ready for unexpected weather changes through building a more resilient and well-prepared supply chain.
- Multi-tier mapping
Weatherproofing the supply chain starts with knowing where all parts and components come from. With this in mind, the first step for any company should be to map the entire supply chain down multi-tiers. Mapping provides the information and visibility needed to proactively move high-risk products out of at-risk areas, find alternative locations and redirect operations before extreme weather occurs.
- Investing in monitoring and AI-enhanced tools
Monitoring provides real-time insight into potentially threatening events, which is why it’s essential for businesses to undertake so they can act immediately. The difference between monitoring tools comes down to the number of monitored sources, the quality of the data and its timeliness. It’s crucial to invest not only in monitoring but also in predictive AI-powered solutions that help react promptly and adapt to severe weather events before or as they unfold. By leveraging AI and machine learning it’s possible to ultimately reach a level of automation where decisions are made in a split second.
- Assessing risk
Businesses may ask themselves: are our suppliers prepared for extreme events such as blizzards or hurricanes? To make sure that these concerns don’t arise, suppliers should be checked regularly through ongoing risk assessments. By assessing their readiness across all sites, it is possible to identify those suppliers with strong procedures in place, as well as those who need to improve. The former can serve as a benchmark, while the others can be helped to address any flaws.
- Analysing existing data
Looking at Met Office data on past severe weather events in the UK it is clear that both their intensity and prevalence have increased. Checking whether certain locations in the supply chain are affected by weather-related disruptions more than others allows appropriate changes to be made. A thorough analysis of past disruption data will identify the links in the supply chain that are most vulnerable and help solve certain issues. In fact, Resilinc’s data shows the suppliers most affected by extreme weather tend to be some of the least prepared.
- Having a backup plan in place
A successful strategy to weatherproof the supply chain should include a backup plan. Nothing can stop, nor can anyone predict, the full extent of severe weather effects. When they occur, companies should be able to turn to alternative solutions. Hence, they should plan in advance and consider storing additional inventory in other locations, having alternative distribution methods and, if possible, not relying on one site for high-risk parts.
“Gaining greater visibility of your supply chain, maintaining good relationships with your suppliers, and implementing advanced monitoring and planning techniques, can help organisations assess potential risk impact and allow them to swiftly take action to mitigate any losses. In light of the increase in extreme weather-related events, investing in technology-driven supply chain risk management tools is critical to managing severe weather and other challenges,” summarises Bindiya.