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International Forwarding Association Blog » International freight forwarding » Freight Forwarders Strategies to Prepare for Climate Disasters

Freight Forwarders Strategies to Prepare for Climate Disasters

With global warming, supply chain networks face considerable risks due to climate disasters, severe weather, and the threat of future pandemics. When wildfires rage, ice covers the roadways, and high winds howl, many businesses are forced to shut down operations. Supply chains have to do the exact opposite and find alternative ways to ship commodities. Consumers expect small shipments to arrive on time even in harsh weather. What is more, shipping cardo is even more important during severe weather and climate disasters when essential goods are blocked in affected areas. As threats are constantly evolving, the shipping industry must find ways to adapt and evolve.


Risk Mitigation Strategies for Ports

Some ports are already reexamining their risk mitigation strategies in light of storms becoming more volatile, severe, and frequent. As the maritime supply chain is interconnected with warehousing, roadways, networks, and electrical infrastructure, port authorities need to take a closer look at the potential impact of climate disasters on these assets and how they fare. Severe storms can also cause damage to cranes, trucks, computer systems, underground infrastructure, transformers, fuel pumps, and port’s berths. Temporary measures that have been implemented include retrofits to buildings and flood barriers to withstand hurricanes and other climate disasters.

Passive protection is a better alternative, however, and involves steps to upgrade critical infrastructure to withstand severe weather. One such measure is building up land to make it physically higher so that port staff can move containers and equipment before the storm hits. Some ports are also investing in cranes with elevated motors to prepare for severe weather. But this is not enough for climate disasters of scale. A better solution yet is to build a drainage infrastructure that enables ports to recover more quickly.


Mitigation Strategies for Shipping Companies

With global warming, freight forwarders need to plan for more severe and frequent fires going forward. They not only cause damage to warehousing facilities but clog up roadways and cause shipping delays. One strategy to minimize risk is to relocate warehousing facilities to places outside potential danger areas. This is not always a feasible solution, however, especially for distribution centers serving local populations. Food is perishable and moving a distribution center 1,000 km away makes little sense. Industries such as pharmaceuticals and technology have more leeway, with products having a longer shelf life.

One possible solution is to maintain buffer stock outside the area or move part of the inventory during high-risk seasons. This allows businesses to keep most of the inventory where needed and have buffer stock in case of a weather disaster.

It is also important to prepare with insurance because unlike hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires do not come with advanced warning. Investing in infrastructure is also a way to minimize the risk of damage and ensure employee safety. Having power generators, first aid supplies, water, and emergency food can be a life saver for employees who are trapped onsite.