Hurricane Laura made landfall last week, and the toll it’s taken on the people and cities along its path is massive and still being fully assessed. Here at FourKites, we work closely with our customers to help them manage through times of crisis to ensure that their supply chains continue to operate as expected.

Natural disasters and their effects on the supply chain are things that have been on our radar for quite some time. Several years ago, we released our Predictive Weather Intelligence product, which allows companies to assess the risks associated with severe weather events in real time, improving their ability to plan around such occurrences and minimize their impact on shipments in-transit. More recently, we partnered with the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), to help ensure the timely delivery of critical goods to areas affected by natural disasters.

As extreme weather events and other disruptions continue to wreak havoc across already strained supply chains, here are some tips for keeping your operations running.

Tip 1: Communication Is Crucial

Supply chains are built on good communication. The wrong information at the wrong time can have major implications on our ability to make sure that goods get to where they’re going in a timely fashion. This is never more true than when the daily rhythms of routine operations are disrupted by an emergency.

It’s at those times when we recommend that our users double down on the many built-in communications capabilities within our platform. To cite just a few examples, our shared shipment status eURLs, secure messaging and encrypted link features give our customers the ability to coordinate with key stakeholders about the status of a load, or quickly communicate unexpected delays. Additionally, all customers can include themselves as a watcher on an emergency load so that they can receive communications for all milestone events occurring for said load.

Moreover, FourKites’ Share Shipment Status feature is designed to allow users to securely communicate individual load information to their customers via a secure, encrypted link. Users can now customize these alerts to control what data is shared with internal stakeholders and end customers.

Tip 2: Head Off Potential Disruptions

Even the best communication is limited, however, if you don’t know where problems are occurring in the first place. That’s why FourKites also offers an array of options designed to help customers identify the areas where supply chain disruptions due to extreme weather patterns are likely to occur. Using FourKites’ Custom Zones feature, you can draw temporary borders around the projected track of a storm – and the cities and lanes that lie in its path. You can then set up automated alerts to immediately notify affected parties as soon as a load passes through those areas.

For a more general view, the FourKites Executive Dashboard tracks loads that may fall victim to extreme weather and other road hazards in real time, presenting them all within a single snapshot for your reference.

Tip 3: Triage Effectively

At the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we added a new functionality that allowed individual loads to be marked with “Emergency” priority status, allowing internal transportation management teams to seize the opportunity to keep track of their most critical or at-risk loads. This can be done both directly within the FourKites user interface or using API commands.

Loads can also be tagged in the FourKites platform to simplify the process of finding high-priority shipments or those that face a higher degree of risk. Tags are extremely flexible and can be customized within FourKites to represent any situation, product or SKU, and they can also be filtered for and analyzed over time to better inform your disaster preparations in the future.

Finally, using FourKites’ Saved Filters feature, you can also set up searches in advance, or save the search parameters that your team members are using most frequently to find at-risk shipments. Such automation and advance preparation ultimately frees up more time for your team to fix problems when they do arise.

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If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that our supply chains must be armed and ready for any crisis at any time. FourKites partners with our customers to give them the tools to maximize their agility and resilience in the face of the unexpected. To learn more about the value our solutions can bring to your business, contact us at hello@fourkites.com. For existing customers, connect with your Customer Success Manager to discuss how to implement these solutions, and we invite you to submit any additional crisis management ideas to the FourKites Community

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