July 5, 2012 Natural Disasters: Logistics Key to Supply Chain Response Natural disasters are a part of life. With their earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. surely have had their share. There are other disasters as well, such as the explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Mari, Germany in March 2012. Although the greatest, most tragic outcome of all disasters is a loss of life, a recent article at Supply Chain Brain revealed a lesser, but still serious repercussion from the Mari disaster. The supply chain publication noted that the Mari chemical plant produces nearly half of the supplies of “a resin that is essential to global auto part makers.” Incidences like this one remind logistics management professionals of the far-reaching effect natural and other forms of disasters can have on the global supply chain. Natural Disasters As a Lead Logistics Provider, Odyssey Logistics & Technology (OLT) understands the impact of supply chain disasters. “We constantly monitor reports for naturally occurring events, such as hurricanes, unusually severe thunderstorms or tornadoes,” explained Ken Howard, OL&T director of Logistics Operations and Safety Management. “Those events and others have an impact on transportation patterns through wind damage, severe flooding and other forms of destruction.” “We provide our clients with posted weather updates, detailing the affected locations and the reported impact from the disaster.” Information after a natural disaster is vital in activating a disaster plan response. Human Error While there is not much companies can do to stop Mother Nature, preventive safety measures help reduce the number of incidences caused by human error. “We focus on the safety of our client’s shipments in a number of ways,” Howard added. “We start with the carriers we use that have been screened for their safety performance, not only for OL&T shipments, but across the global network, as reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).” Timely and accurate information helps suppliers and shippers respond quickly. Whether a disaster occurs due to natural causes or human error, transparency along every link of the supply chain is critical to a successful recovery.