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A Hurricane’s Impact on the Trucking and Logistics Industry

Nov 14, 2018 | Logistics

A hurricane’s devastating impact leaves a mark on multiple industries and communities. Hurricanes can cause extreme turmoil and can leave people in dire situations. At Werner Logistics, one of our third-party carriers was deeply affected by Hurricane Michael. Our carrier resides in North Carolina, and had to leave his home and take his family and move to a shelter for a little over a week. When he returned to his home, he had to throw away damaged items and pay to replace them. During this time, he had to stay off the road and couldn’t get back out there for a few weeks.

To help those in need, businesses must prepare for emergency shipments and how to get them from one location to another, with the hazardous road conditions creating a major setback. Let’s take a look at the challenges that retailers and carriers face during hurricane season.

Impacts on Retailers

Retailers want to respond quickly to help their customers and the community during a time of disaster. Businesses are extremely focused on getting their product delivered to communities in hurricane-impacted locations in a timely manner. They need capacity to get their product delivered in a particular area on demand, yet they must remain flexible on service points on where a carrier can pick-up and deliver.

Many big box retailers depend on transportation providers to move emergency loads of relief items, such as bottled water, generators, fans, cleaning supplies, trash bags and other various supplies into stores that desperately need them. While they typically know the vendors, the destination remains fluid. The supplies will be directed to the area that is most in need or may be redirected due to inability to reach a store location.

With Hurricane Florence, the flooding and road closures cut certain North Carolina stores off for days, causing many carriers to shut down and delaying the delivery into that area. Hurricane Michael impacted stores in Northwest Florida, causing some to nearly be under water. Therefore, supplies had to be redirected to stores in different locations in surrounding vicinities.

Hurricane activity can also have an impact on distribution centers. With Hurricane Harvey, flooding stopped all traffic entering some distribution centers in Houston and surrounding areas. This created a backlog for loads of all manner delivering into and shipping outbound at these distribution centers.

Impacts on Carriers

Ultimately, a carrier’s priority is to help service the needs of the customer. Retailers rely on carriers in assisting with emergency relief efforts. In a situation where a hurricane hits, they are presented obstacles, yet their goal is to safely deliver goods to the customer.

Carriers start to plan for the hurricane before the storm even hits. Multiple contingency plans need to be explored when the magnitude of destruction and the exact location of need is unknown. When the storm is about to hit, carriers need to make the difficult decision of delivering freight to these areas or to avoid them. The drivers that sign up for these high-stake jobs make huge sacrifices and are relied upon to make critical decisions.

Damage to road and infrastructure heavily impact routes. Some drivers end up being stuck with a load for days, waiting for roads to open or for the weather to subside, so then they can get into disaster effected areas to bring relief supplies.

How 3PLs Can Help

Third party logistics providers (3PLs) can help defuse the situation. Prepare your supply chain by utilizing a provider that has a team dedicated to assisting with natural disaster projects. Werner’s Emergency Surge Event Management team (E.A.S.E.) is a project management solution for customers focused on immediate response. E.A.S.E. is a group of experts that provide multiple capacity solutions that is available to meet your needs with 24/7 coverage. With the help from our transportation management system (TMS), we are able to give our customers on demand reporting, shipment visibility, mode optimization and project costing.

For more information, contact us at Werner.com.

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