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Severe Weather Impacting Your Area
Talent and tools for delivering in adverse conditions
Severe Weather Impacting Your Area
Talent and tools for delivering in adverse conditions
February 19, 2021

onsecutive rounds of unprecedented winter weather across the southern and midwestern United States help us appreciate our cold climate specialists living in the north. These weather events typically command headline press, wielding images of knee-deep snow drifts and workers braving the frigid temperatures to keep the world moving. As states continue to restore essential normalcy, we began to reflect on how these conditions are handled by shipping and logistics organizations. How do carriers navigate the air and streets, while at the mercy of Mother Nature, to keep deliveries flowing?

The route planning process is a tough job on its own, marked by a projected annual range of 200-300 billion in global parcel volume by 2026 (PB Parcel Shipping Index). Throw a severe forecast into that mix; you’ve increased the complexity, and the pressure, tenfold. Logistics networks are prepared by employing specialized professionals and advanced tactics and tech. This blog will explore some of the ways your packages power through the elements.

Meet the Team

“When I grow up, I’d like to be a logistics meteorologist.” Companies like FedEx and UPS are sure glad their teams made that choice.

“Both FedEx and UPS employ teams of meteorologists….forecasting as much as 10 to 15 days in advance. Combining weather information with seasonal demand and packages in the system allows them to reroute and plan for contingencies. Large companies like Amazon also feed in their demand profiles, helping to improve the result further.” Attributed Article

The article by Wonolo also notes that hourly forecasts are reported at critical junctions in the network, mainly airports, where arrivals and departures are most affected by inclement weather. Perishable goods, like essential medicines, can benefit from the diligence of these teams as well, due to their delicate temperature and handling requirements. And we can’t forget the last mile to delivery. Arguably the most people-driven leg of the shipment’s journey, the driver’s daily outlook reveals yet another reason for carriers to look to their weather experts.

Putting Boots in the Snow

Forecasts trigger a cadence of procedures aimed at rerouting packages away from problematic regions, shifting delivery plans, and implementing safety measures. Then, it’s up to the communication teams to reach all affected, both internal and external to the operation.

“A snowstorm in Dallas might see packages rerouted to Memphis or Denver. Delivery schedules and route maps are altered for drivers when circumstances demand. All these measures are tweaks and significant adjustments designed to keep the flow smooth and precise.” Attributed Article

Deliveries often resume mere hours after a storm, with safety always on the carrier’s mind and using the best insight to stay one step ahead.

Talk about Tech

In recent years, shipment tracking technology harnessed the power to place impressively granular notifications in the hands of both carriers and customers. While these advancements are a welcome boost to the customer’s post-sale experience, their true spotlight is earlier in the process, amongst the conveyor belts and bustling halls of regional distribution centers.

Cities like Denver, Houston, Chicago, Kansas City, and Seattle make the short list as gateways for goods traveling across the country. Their geography presents both a challenge and a solution during severe weather events.

MIT Technology Review walks us through a scenario:

“If a snowstorm hits Denver, it can delay thousands of packages that travel through the city before reaching their final destinations on the other side of the country…. engineers in Portland, Oregon, could see that a number of Massachusetts-bound packages were heading for trouble, and divert some of them through the Chicago hub, sending the rest through the one in Meadowlands, New Jersey, to avoid swamping Chicago. Both of those facilities would be able to sort the packages and send them on for local distribution in time to fulfill contracts.”

One can imagine the sheer volume of data to efficiently and accurately decipher. Luckily, engineers frequently rely on cloud-based tools through which they can run simulations to assist their own expertise. Algorithms make suggestions as they are fed knowledge about the network’s current position and each location’s limitations, but give the engineer the ultimate say.

And it’s not only large multi-nationals who employ proactive weather tactics. Consider the needs of multi-modal and trucking industries. Similar to how our ConnectShip solutions integrate for routes, rates, and shipment documents, several companies offer solutions for weather data & imagery that optimize route planning. These integrations alert engineers, planners, and delivery personnel in real time to best strategize their approach.

We are ever thankful for those who brave the elements to keep our homes warm, our water flowing, and bring deliveries to our doorstep. Given a less-than-ideal forecast, that is quite an impressive feat. The power of weather must be highly respected in the logistics industry, putting brave and dedicated people in the best position to deliver on promises.

Ludwig Dischner III, MA, PMP
Marketing and Commercial Project Analyst ~ Connectship
Ludwig contributes to ConnectShip in brand development, project management, content production, video animation, UX/UI design and development, marketing research, analytics, business strategy, legal administration, and some musical talents, too. Ludwig is an integral piece of the team, communicating logistics solutions to a wide range of audiences and improving ConnectShip's project management. Ludwig holds a master’s degree in strategic communication and in project management from the University of Oklahoma, after graduating from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor's degree in business marketing. He also maintains his PMP certification.