With the corporate headquarters of the Prime Group based in Miami, we are keenly aware of the prospect of major storms disrupting our operations – and especially right now as the Atlantic hurricane season is upon us.
But beyond the potential physical-plant threats to businesses along “Hurricane Alley,” the impact of a disaster on a global logistics enterprise here can easily extend to all corners of the globe. That’s because today’s supply chain is more tightly interconnected than ever.
As successful supply chain operators in the field of perishables, vaccines, and multiple other sensitive commodities, our subsidiary companies Prime Logistics and Prime Fresh Handling are certainly no strangers to dealing with risk. And while climatologists don’t expect this hurricane season to be as busy as 2021, it only takes one storm to test their ability to respond to fast changing conditions.
We’ve long known that what truly counts is #1 smart planning; #2 ability to adapt, and; #3 the use of new technologies.
Disasters of a Different Color
Of course Mother Nature doesn’t account for all disasters. In addition to sustaining snowstorms, hurricanes, and the recent California fires, this 1-2-3 approach to survival also comes to play in managing through manmade disasters. Civil and labor unrest, cyber-attacks, piracy, major utility failures, terrorism, and other “critical events” are also among the panoply of catastrophes that can take a stress a business to the breaking point if not managed right.
Using extreme weather as a model, each incident large or small, provides a lesson for supply chains to be better prepared for the next. This includes scenario mapping, inventory tracking, and close collaboration with peers, customers, suppliers, and vendors.
In the Florida market, the first step to in preparing for the coming hurricane season is blow the dust off that old familiar maxim: It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.”
Constant monitoring of conditions and continual risk analysis become the basic tools in minimizing operational impact. There is no single rule of thumb to know the degree to which a critical event may or may not affect your operation, which is why preparation is key. But we do know is there is no margin for error, especially on the cold supply food chain.
In the face of a storm, natural or otherwise, the right decisions have to be made – be it re-routing product in transit, slowing or halting the movement of cargo to and from seaports, or just knowing when to hunker down and ride it out.
A couple years back, a storm heading straight at South Florida was showing telltale signs of becoming a major hurricane. In light of this, one steamship line decided to halt a sailing for several days – but with tens-of-thousands of dollars in worth of time and temperature sensitive product onboard, this was now becoming customer-relations disaster all its own.
By working with the supplier to quickly unload the merchandise, we were able to find another ship that was doing an earlier sailing. As a result, the customer was spared a major loss of product, and all the insurance claim hassles that would entail.
Successful logistics providers are smart to know that when coupled together, forecasting and adaptability are key to maintaining solid relationships in the perishables and medical supply and vaccines industries, as well as to the integrity of the entire cold supply chain.
Planning and resiliency also go hand in hand. So as natural disasters and wildfires continue to grow both in frequency and intensity, it further underscores the necessity of having a well-conceived business-resiliency plan in place.
And now add to that list, worldwide pandemics.
No matter the source of the disruption, unexpected shifts in supply and demand call for flexibility among all parties: producers, shippers, retailers, and consumers. The COVID-19 crisis not only revealed major vulnerabilities in the worldwide food system, its ripple effects were felt across the entire chain, from farm to pantry shelf.
By employing an impact analysis coupled with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, we can better respond to such disruptions – while at the same time have a better chance at maintaining continuous business operations and protecting product and assets.
But at the end of the day, it is immensely important to have an expert logistics provider on your side like Prime Logistics or Prime Fresh Handling offering consistently smart and creative solutions – not excuses.
Smarts come with experience. It also comes as a result of using the latest innovations in technology.
The wave of the future for industries across all business sectors is artificial intelligence (AI). Within the specialized food distribution arena, this is particularly exciting because of the role AI is going to play in preparing for natural and manmade disasters.
As we progress deeper into the automated world of AI, hopefully predictive information on natural disasters will help buyers, food distribution companies, and logistic vendors not just make delivery more intelligent, but to maintain the freshness of product across the entire cold supply chain.
For more than 20 years, our customers have depended on us to be smart, nimble, and intuitive problem solvers – and we will continue to be there for them in the best and worst of times.
~ CEO Roger Paredes