August 18, 2022

Weathering the Unpredictable: What Supply Chain Operators Should Know About Catastrophic Weather

Industry-wide, experts are lining up behind advances like AI as the best defense against an almost certain future of unpredictable weather patterns that alter and grip the world’s supply chain. Better technology investments are no longer optional.

This week, and seemingly every week, a new weather-related catastrophe is hitting the nation’s supply chain like a lightning bolt, dismantling delivery schedules, and weakening the ability for operators to stabilize inventory and their own bottom lines. Industry leaders say visibility, accurate forecasting and resiliency are vital as a shifting climate persists.

Stormy Forecast

As July came to a close, unprecedented floods in Kentucky swept hundreds from their homes as firefighters out West beat back a new wave of wildfires and the biggest blaze of the year in California.

Storms, drought, heat waves and erratic weather patterns across the globe are not only disrupting lives, but wreaking havoc on supply chains and increasing the scarcity of resources.

In Germany, excessive heat is drying up the River Rhine, a major waterway for shipping goods across the country. The shrinking situation comes as Germany’s economy lags and analysts fear this shipping disruption could tip the country into a recession.

Earlier this year it was frost in Brazil that suddenly froze the country’s coffee bean supply, sending the price of a cup of Joe soaring as far as New Orleans, where Café du Monde was forced to raise prices on three of its signature canned coffee varieties.

And even the streets cannot be sealed properly in Montana. Critical chip-seal efforts have been cut short due to severe weather and supply chain issues related to the equipment and materials, including asphalt, needed to make the necessary road repairs, which can significantly lengthen the life of a street and prevent roads from becoming dangerously deteriorated.

Each weather impact creates a ripple effect across multiple layers of a city, state, country, and even global supply chain system – all of them costly.

According to McKinsey, climate shifts are going to continue to weaken the supply chain and operators and businesses must be prepared. By 2040, for example, companies reliant on chips purchased from the most popular outlets in Asia can expect worsening hurricane seasons to create increasingly likely disruptions to chip supplies.

The implications of a strain on chips alone are enough to force corporations and supply chain operators to get more serious about forecasting, scenario planning and identifying vulnerabilities.

Always Be Prepared

McKinsey’s 2020 report on the implications of climate change on supply chains noted that companies must be prepared to prevent losses.

Preparation comes in key forms, including:

* Supply Chain Mapping
– Searching for the vulnerabilities within a supply chain, including vendors and partners that may run out of supplies or face their own uncontrollable delays.
* Scenario Planning
– Running simulations and forecasting analysis for all possible scenarios along the chain, looking for weak links that could be mitigated proactively.
* Building Resiliency
– Anticipating where catastrophic weather may hit and building facilities that better withstand the weather, or aligning with partners and suppliers in regions not as likely to be impacted.
* Technology
– Invest in platforms and systems that offer the latest advances in visibility and forecasting and that bolster planning capabilities.

Harness Technology

Sensor technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and technologies fostering greater connectivity and far more accurate analysis are becoming a lifeline for businesses seeking a life preserver when it comes to avoiding weather-related disaster.

The only digital platform for supply chain planning built in and deployed on Salesforce and AWS clouds, ketteQ has emerged as a vital partner to the supply chain industry.

Designed around the go-to platforms for data collection and forecasting, the familiarity of ketteQ’s solutions make it easy to integrate with existing departments and systems, while offering continuous updates at the highest level of industry capability.

A single source of truth, delivering end-to-end visibility, ketteQ’s control tower solution allows for the ability to monitor configurable alert conditions and vastly improve scenario planning.

Industry-wide, experts are lining up behind advances like AI as the best defense against an almost certain future of unpredictable weather patterns that alter and grip the world’s supply chain. Better technology investments are no longer optional.

Ready to explore how your company can improve their technology systems to protect against uncertainty? Give ketteQ a call today.

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Nicole Taylor
Sr. Director of Brand and Marketing Communications
About the author

Nicole has over 18 years of marketing experience across a wide range of industries including SaaS, Advanced Manufacturing, Hospitality, and Non-Profits. She is a data-driven, detail-oriented marketer adept at developing and executing all aspects of marketing to optimize and leverage visibility to drive growth for brands.