So, a lot of us live in areas where weather and seasonal changes are going to affect the world of transportation. Everything from extreme cold, snow, ice and high winds can cause transportation of goods to slow down or even grind to a full stop. Doing as much as you can to prepare for this can help save some time, money and headache. While you cannot completely eliminate these issues, you can definitely mitigate their potential of rising.
Identify the changes that will affect your supply chain
First of all, you need to understand what kind of weather/seasonal changes will affect your freight from getting from you to your customer. Snow is always going to be an issue in the winter, however, knowing which areas have high risk of road closures and keeping track of them is important. Most of your carrier/broker partners should be doing this for you, but you should be aware of the areas of issue along the routes your product needs to go. Extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, can even affect product. Reefers are good and getting better all the time, but when temperatures dip or spike too high, items on the walls or near the doors can be affected.
Plan, plan, plan
As with most of the transportation world, planning can make or break your day and/or project. Working with your carriers/brokers to discuss the seasonal changes and what adjustments need to be made to timeframes and expectations is important. It will not take the same amount of time to get to Vancouver from Toronto in the winter time versus the summertime - no matter what Google maps tell you. Having realistic expectations will only set you up for success with your customers. It is better to tell customers that a load has shown up early from time to time, versus telling them that your truck is late due to weather. They may understand it is out of your control, but they might also question why you didn’t plan better.
Coordinate with your customers
To complement the above, it’s key to manage your expectations with your customers. They don’t live in a bubble -- they are aware that it snows in Canada and it gets cold. But they will appreciate a forward-looking approach to keeping product coming in when they expect it. If a timeframe is too tight or there is a possibility of something not making it, voice that concern. There is no harm in saying, “It will be a challenge to make that delivery, we feel more comfortable with…. to ensure safe and on-time delivery”. No one wins if the truck ends up in a ditch trying to make a tight delivery time.
Have a plan B
Sometimes customers may really need something in particular, and if they are willing to pay, then you can make some changes to the strategy. Team services and air freight are other ways to expedite a delivery in bad weather. However, if weather is just too bad, these options will not work either. Some companies send extra product to warehouses or distribution centres near their customers to help combat these issues. Think outside of the box and use the relationships you have in order to find the right options for you and your customers.
Finally, understand that there are things that are truly beyond anyone’s control and loads will be late from time to time. However, the more you use the above ideas, the more you can mitigate this to the smallest number of incidences.
Weather and seasons will not always work in your favour, but they’re also not typically a surprise either. Communication will always be the best way to keep things moving and arriving when expected. Being overly communicative is always better than little communication, leaving someone in the dark about what is actually happening.