The winter storm that ravaged Texas and much of the country in mid-February had a far-reaching impact, and supply chains certainly were not spared.
Here at FourKites, we’re constantly monitoring real-time shipment, dwell and on-time data to see how things are running. The ability to have visibility across every aspect of the supply chain journey is especially important when a potentially dangerous weather system is moving across the country. We saw the storm impact shipments in nearly every industry, indicating that although the storm was forecasted, supply chains couldn’t respond quickly enough to be spared from the disruptions that ensued. Shifting product or manufacturing to another region takes time, resources and oftentimes major trade-offs.
Plummeting shipment volumes rebound quickly
Over the week of the winter storm (February 13-17), the FourKites platform saw total shipment volumes drop by 20% compared to the week of February 7. A look back at these same weeks last year — which held steady with regard to overall shipment volumes — indicates the clear impact of the storm on goods in transit.
We saw a significant drop in shipments across nearly all industries in our platform that week, with the Manufacturing, Food & Beverage and Pharmaceutical industries taking the hardest hit. A similar trend was observed for on-time delivery (OTD) for all industries that week, with all industries experiencing drops in OTD by more than 30% — except for the Retail industry (more on that below).
Manufacturing shipments were hardest hit by the storm. The industry has seen a recent slow-down in shipments because of chip and other shortages, and that trend spiraled even further during the storm, with shipment volumes plummeting by over 31%.
Load volumes rebounded fairly quickly starting the week of February 21, though the Food & Beverage industry continued to experience some residual delays.
How Retail beat the storm
The industry that fared best during the storm was Retail, perhaps an indication that it was better prepared. In the two weeks leading up to the storm, Retail shipments rose by 24% — compared to the overall 2% increase across all industries — as retailers stocked up in advance of the impending snow. Getting ahead of the weather system likely contributed to better OTD compared to the other industries over the same period. During the week of the storm, OTD fell by just 16% for Retail, compared to a 26% average drop across all industries. In the following week, OTD for retail increased by 39%, on par with the industry average increase of 38%.
The Pharmaceutical industry was hit particularly hard by the winter storm, seeing not only sharp declines in shipments, but also poorer OTD and higher dwell times relative to other industries on the FourKites platform.
For the total month of February, Pharma shipments experienced OTD 6% below average OTD across all industries in FourKites platform. And while all industries experienced a decline in OTD during the week of February 14, Pharma saw a drop in OTD of 36%, compared to the 32% average decline across industries.
But where the Pharma industry saw the biggest impact was when it came to dwell time. Median dwell for Pharma loads increased by 92% during the week of February 7, 92% higher than dwell time change across all industries on the FourKItes platform. The following week — the week of the storm — saw an unprecedented 308% increase in average dwell for Pharma shipments, far surpassing the 5% average dwell increase across all industries. This stabilized a bit in the following week, with Pharma dwell time declining by 51%.
These elevated dwell times can be costly for shippers and can severely impact patients waiting on medication, vaccines and other life-saving supplies. While dwell times recovered quickly after the storm, the increased congestion after the storm likely also contributed to further delays.
Preparing for the next storm
Whether it’s snow, hurricanes or other unexpected events, real-time visibility can help mitigate the costly impact of extreme weather events by giving shippers and carriers the actionable insights they need in order to anticipate disruptions, plan accordingly and avoid delayed shipments.
FourKites offers a number of features that help organizations weather unexpected storms — both literal and metaphorical. Some of our latest weather-related features include Severe Traffic & Weather Alerts for critical conditions along a truck’s route so teams can stay informed of their impact; advanced Instant Messenger functionality that enables users to collaborate with everyone in their FourKites network and share necessary information in real time; and a dashboard that allows users to analyze trends and metrics around rescheduled appointments, as well as recommended insights to improve the reliability and robustness of your supply chain planning.
Stay tuned for more insights and analysis on the latest supply chain trends!