How Winter Weather Affects the Supply Chain

How Winter Weather Affects the Supply Chain_distribution management nashville_MW Logistics_Nashville TN

Winter weather can make even the most menial tasks more difficult. Cold wind, ice, snow—they combine over the winter months to create inhospitable conditions and make people simply want to stay home. But for those that work outside—truck drivers, for instance—staying home simply isn’t an option. And the fact that they can’t simply avoid these detrimental factors means they have to find ways to deal with them.

These factors can have a bit of a snowball effect on every aspect of the supply chain. Everything from suppliers to consumers are impacted in some way by the climate. But what are those impacts? And how should distribution management companies in Nashville deal with them? Let’s look at what you should expect throughout the winter months.

Distribution management can be difficult throughout the winter season, even in more hospitable climates like Nashville. Visit M&W Logistics to see how they can streamline your supply chain needs.

Delivery Difficulties

The most apparent aspect of the supply chain to be impacted by winter weather are the delivery drivers. Road conditions can become quite hazardous during the winter months. This can cause massive delays to shipments, even causing some to be unable to be delivered at all. This obviously impacts the end-stage consumers in a negative way. Even a short delay in receiving a shipment can cause an exhaustion of stock, leading to unfulfilled orders and consumer needs.

This can affect all types of shipments, but is perhaps most drastic for perishable items. Grocery stores, for instance, run low on their stock fairly quickly when shipments are delayed. These delays can cause the product to spoil between the food-grade warehousing and end destination. And although proper planning can lessen the negative effects of weather-driven delays, it’s impossible to completely stop winter weather from impacting deliveries.

Consumer Habits

Ask anybody in the service industry, and they’ll tell you winter is the “slow season.” There are many reasons this could be—people are less likely to go outside when it’s cold, people tend to go on vacation in the summer, money gets tight around the holidays. But whatever the reason might be, the simple fact remains that slow seasons mean there is a reduced need for product. This has a few effects on the supply chain.

First, a reduced need for product means less deliveries. This translates into less money flowing into the supply chain industry. Stock can build up in warehouses. Transportation companies experience less hours of work. Producers slow down operations. All of these add up to less overall capital throughout the supply chain.

But consumer habits, much like the weather, can’t be changed. The only thing that can be done is for distribution management to take this into account when projecting their yearly goals.

Supply Challenges

Not all suppliers get their stock from machines. Perishable products like food, plants, or anything else produced outdoors will see a dramatic decline in the winter months. This is, again, unavoidable and to be factored into yearly projections. However, just because stock might diminish, customer demand for these products might not.

Consumers simply don’t often think about where their wares come from. All they see are items on a shelf, so they want access to them when their need calls for it. Stores know this and want to offer their customers everything they can so the customer doesn’t go elsewhere to find their items. A reduction in supplies can prove to be a challenging problem during the winter months. And since the problem begins at the very start of the supply chain, the reverberations can be felt throughout the entire system.

Tips

Keep an Eye on the Weather

The inclement weather of the winter season is the most detrimental aspect. Slick roads can lead to slower travel times as well as accidents. And since routes can only be changed so much, distribution management needs to plan for bad conditions. Weather forecasts should be considered when planning which orders should be run together as well as how long each delivery should take.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

All positions within the supply chain should be in constant communication as to their needs, the challenges they face, and realistic expectations for fulfillment. Unforeseen challenges can be a major setback. Lessen the effects of these setbacks by communicating your needs and predictions with everyone in the supply chain.

Plan for Impacts

These weather-driven impacts occur every year. Examine the performance of everyone in your supply chain throughout the past years to get an idea of what to expect. And then when the time comes, take what you’ve learned and apply it to your projections and plans for the coming season.

M&W Logistics knows how to navigate distribution management in Nashville year-round. Visit us today to see how we can help you.