How Your TMS Software Can Help Avoid Shipping Weather Delays

October 21, 2022

How to leverage your TMS System to avoid shipping weather delays

It’s normal for shippers to prepare for seasonal weather patterns. An overtaxed supply chain, however, can grind to a halt because of disruptions due to extreme weather and other natural disasters.

How does bad weather cause shipping problems and delays?

Here are a few examples of how bad weather and other natural disasters can affect shipping:

  • Increase in transportation costs. Natural disasters cause an inflationary cycle when it comes to shipping costs. The higher rates mean there are fewer carriers who will accept tenders from lower-rate, long-term contracts. In this case, shippers will be forced to post loads to a spot rate board in order to move their cargo.

  • Loss of productivity. Any decrease in productivity can increase shipping costs. Staff anywhere along the supply chain may have to wait for a storm to pass or for infrastructure to be repaired. Transportation management teams may also be hampered if the natural event affects their specific location and the systems they use.

  • Scarce capacity. Capacity usually becomes scarce during a natural disaster. No one wants to risk driver safety or damage freight when extreme weather hits. So, carriers may choose not to transport cargo when conditions prove too hazardous. Shippers could alter their routes to avoid hazardous conditions. But everyone else needing to move people and cargo will have the same idea, causing drivers to get stuck in congested traffic.

  • Delays in delivery lead to customer dissatisfaction. Any delay in a shipment, will delay customer projects and increase their costs down the road. Some customers may be understanding, but others will not. Either way, customers will feel frustration as their project’s expenses rise while they wonder where their freight is.

  • Damaged freight. Everyone loses when freight becomes damaged goods. And natural disasters can damage freight in many ways and at many locations: at the source, while waiting to be loaded at the dock, during handling and transport, and while being delivered to the customer.

Managing shipping risks when a natural disaster strikes

Any transportation management team is required to minimize the risks of supply chain disruptions. The rest of this article looks at how a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS) can help reduce risk that severe weather poses to shippers:

  • Large carrier networks minimize shipping risks

  • Visibility throughout the supply chain improves communications and timing

  • Contingency planning and budgeting reduces uncertainty

  • Cloud-based TMS systems protect organizational data and systems

Large carrier networks minimize shipping risk

Dependency on a few carriers may simplify a shipper’s business model. But a small carrier network becomes a hazard during a crisis. Carrier capacity becomes scarce whenever there is a problem anywhere in a location or region, including cross-border areas. Scarce capacity means shippers will have difficulty finding preferred carriers to transport industrial freight.

To avoid the problems that scarce capacity causes shippers, transportation management teams need to increase their network of preferred carriers. The more carriers they have on contract, the more likely shippers can find carriers who will accept their tenders.

While the RFQ process can be complicated, it is possible for shippers to use a cloud-based TMS system such as the SaaS TMS from Princeton TMX that allows for working with more transparency with a larger carrier network. The transparency leads to better relations with carriers who may prefer working with shippers of choice instead of taking their chances with a volatile spot rate market.

Visibility throughout the supply chain improves communications and timing

Both customers and carriers like the transparency that comes with better communications, and an increase in supply chain visibility leads to just that.

Improved visibility allows for more accurate loading and delivery times.

Supply chain visibility also allows shippers to make decisions quickly, for instance, optimizing routes while freight is in transit. This ensures driver safety when sudden bad weather produces hazardous driving conditions and congestion.

Contingency planning and budgeting reduces uncertainty

Every shipper knows bad weather happens. Therefore, transportation management teams should have contingency plans and budgets in place to minimize the risk of supply chain disruptions caused by natural disasters.

Adequate budget reserves anticipate an increase in transportation costs during seasonal or unseasonal weather. Other contingency plans include:

  • Optimizing loads and routes to avoid hazardous conditions caused by bad weather

  • Quickly switching to alternate modes of transportation with minimal or no disruption

  • Moving staff and freight out of harm’s way before disaster strikes

Contingency plans and budgets should also include moving all transportation systems to the cloud and integrating those systems with other supply chain systems. By doing this, shippers reduce the risk of uncertainty that are caused by natural disasters, armed conflict, and volatile markets when they move transportation management to the cloud.

Shippers also protect organizational data and operations during a natural disaster by moving to a cloud-based TMS System by Princeton TMX. This type of system is not dependent on dedicated servers located near headquarters. Instead, the cloud automatically moves all data and applications to other servers in unaffected regions. Therefore, organizational and operational data is always safe.

Finally, transportation management teams can work remotely at any location, reducing the loss of productivity that usually accompanies bad weather systems. So, shippers can save on shipping costs in spite of any bad storms.