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Mary HeiserDirector, Industry & Product Marketing, FourKites

For those in the supply chain industry, a myriad of things can go wrong, some more preventable than others. Among the unpreventable are natural disasters – and it seems they’re only getting worse.

According to NASA and due to global warming, global climate models predict hurricanes will likely cause more intense rainfall and have an increased coastal flood risk due to higher storm surge caused by rising seas. Additionally, the global frequency of storms may decrease or remain unchanged, but hurricanes that form are more likely to become intense.

And hurricanes invariably cause supply chain disruptions to some degree.

In 2021, we saw the number of loads delivered in Louisiana decline by 28% in the wake of Hurricane Ida. After Typhoon In-Fa thrashed coastal China, the Port of Shanghai’s container intake dropped by 52%, and those containers took twice as long to reach unloading.

As extreme weather events and other disruptions continue to wreak havoc across supply chains, logistics managers can leverage a real-time visibility platform to keep operations running. Here’s how:

Tip 1: Proactively Communicate

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

At those times, 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 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 notify affected parties immediately 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 new functionality that allows 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 use 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.

If the past few years 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. Contact us to learn more about the value our solutions can bring to your business.

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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