The Role of Supply Chain Resilience in Mitigating Disasters

Disastrous earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and pandemics are all too common lately, and every disaster affects supply chain resilience. But what role does supply chain resilience play in lessening the severity of these disasters?

In times of catastrophe, a top priority for public and private sectors is ensuring access to water, food, medicine, fuel, and other life-saving supplies. Emergency supply chain managers must also respond with supply chain resilience.

Preparing for the Worst

Some disasters such as hurricanes and blizzards provide advanced warnings, while other more suddenly occurring disasters like tornadoes come with seasonal expectations. Supply chain resilience is especially crucial with sudden disasters.

Shippers can plan for known threats by stockpiling supplies, rerouting cargo, and ensuring access to enough carriers to prepare to make deliveries. Beyond preserving their regular supply, shippers can also anticipate new demand for disaster necessities.

For example, in the case of an expected snowstorm, suppliers can forecast demand for snowplows, road salt, shovels, and generators. With the ongoing pandemic, suppliers can follow updates regarding new variants of Covid-19 to predict the increased need for vaccines, PPE, and testing kits. In these instances, agile supply chain models can be the best safeguards for these scenarios using virtual integration and predictive analytics.

Engaging with the Public Sector

When a disaster damages critical public infrastructures, suppliers are challenged to provide crucial supplies. Shippers can promote supply chain resilience by working with government agencies like the DHS and FEMA to determine the best solutions.

According to FEMA’s Supply Chain Resilience Guide, supply chains can survive capacity under duress with increased collaboration among supply chain partners. FEMA also advises that supply chain managers maintain an active awareness of vulnerabilities that inform crisis responses.
The Community Lifelines construct from FEMA promotes the prioritization of communication within a supply chain’s entire community. This includes federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, along with the private sector and non-governmental entities. FEMA suggests that emergency managers should first assess infrastructure capabilities and analyze supply needs. Next, emergency managers should engage with partners to outline and address issues. FEMA has lifeline constructs in place for medical care, energy, communications, transportation, and management of hazardous materials.

Increasing Supply Chain Visibility

Optimizing supply chain visibility is essential to promote supply chain resilience to prepare for increased volume or adapt to public infrastructure damage. When a disaster strikes, the tried and true long-term carrier relationships or routes may be unreliable for shippers. A resilient supply chain is prepared to adapt with real-time visibility of alternate carriers and routes. Many shippers proactively incorporate visibility tools into their logistics platforms to better monitor risks and adapt their supply chains accordingly.

Honeybee TMS provides a load optimization tool that allows for dynamic modeling of shipments, route optimization, order aggregation, and real-time tracking. Honeybee TMS also incorporates tools for carrier communication and spot quote management, providing continuous access to over 20,000 shippers. When Honeybee TMS is combined with CTSI-Global’s robust logistics management services and predictive analytics, shippers can be prepared to respond to any disaster.

While disasters cannot be avoided, resilient supply chains must continue to adapt. Contact CTSI-Global to discuss your company’s disaster response plan.

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