Diego Pantoja Navajas, VP WMS Development
It’s winter in the northern hemisphere, and it’s freezing throughout most of the continental United States. I’m always struck by how weather patterns not only affect our lives but how they also disrupt supply chains and global trade.
Usually, it’s an El Niño weather system causing turmoil in places around the world – either by strengthening hurricanes and storms in the Atlantic or by generating floods and droughts in other places around the world.
But it turns out this year is all about La Niña – an equally problematic, though lesser known weather system just as powerful and disruptive to supply chains.
If you’re the sort of person who pays attention to weather news then you have probably heard or read about some of the problems caused by this weather system.
La Niña impacts the weather when a vast area of the equatorial Pacific cools down and disrupts weather systems. This disruption can be responsible for events as disparate seeming as deep freezes in the UK, record snowfalls in the US, drought in the Amazon, and floods in Pakistan.
However, just as with El Niño, what enough people — especially supply chain professionals — are not thinking about is how these weather changes — how any weather change – impacts agriculture, mining production, operations and transportation.
Massive weather disruptions constitute a potential logistical nightmare. When La Niña threatens the ability to source material, manage operations and inventory, or transport it, it becomes a supply chain problem.
So what are the right ways to prepare a WMS for weather-related events? Is your supply chain software resilient enough to withstand chaotic pressures?
Whatever supply chain companies can do to meet consumer demand is priority number one. By building a resilient network, supply chain companies can ensure that no matter the circumstance, they can be back up and running as quickly as they want.
The Three Legs of a Resilient Supply Chain
In order to meet the challenges posed by a weather phenomenon like La Niña, fulfillment solutions need to be able to withstand or recover quickly from any sudden shifts or changes in the weather or the market. Supply chain solutions need to be flexible enough to change and powerful enough to help organizations stay online, manage inventory and respond to change. The three qualities a fulfillment solution should have when dealing with sudden changes in the weather or loss of access to materials, include:
- Availability: Availability is the first line in ensuring supply chain resiliency. Oracle’s WMS Cloud Solution is available 99% of the time. That online time is unheard of with traditional vendors. For systems to work for you, systems need to work. They need to be on. They need to be accessible all the time with real-time inventory data and adaptability to global constraints. The way Oracle WMS Cloud works — the way it is built — it is always on and always available. This means that as long as power is accessible and servers — anywhere — are up, Oracle WMS Cloud will be there with your inventory. This guarantees peace of mind during weather-related events or even catastrophes. If a location happens to be wiped out, access to your system can be picked up elsewhere, instantaneously. As long as you have a working machine (desktop, laptop, or mobile) with access to the internet, you will always have access to Oracle WMS Cloud and your inventory.
- Flexibility and Configuration: Oracle WMS Cloud facilitates operational flexibility by eliminating silos. Your facilities are available on a single network allowing you to configure them however you like. If flooding occurs, you can respond by shifting operations to alternate facilities if you need to; the Oracle WMS Cloud will have them online in no time at all. If your business needs to respond to weather or market changes, it can. If one large DC needs to be spread out over smaller ones or vice versa, the Oracle WMS Cloud cloud can be ready with original configurations from any device without having to go through a new system setup or the addition of servers or infrastructure to support those facilities. You can spread out or condense operations however you need to.
Furthermore, you can collaborate with your current vendors to rearrange the flow of products based on new facilities or distribution points. With Oracle WMS Cloud’s flexibility you have the capability of breaking shipments in a way that will help you guarantee the flow of goods to your end consumers. Using the networked interconnectedness provided by the Oracle WMS Cloud, you never have to give up control of how you manage inventory, and you can slice or dice your operations however you need to, to respond to market or weather pressures.
- More Control: We think total control is based on knowing and seeing exactly where your inventory is all the time. That’s why we built our solution organically on a CLOUD platform integrated with a common database that provides a single view of your inventory across your entire supply chain network.
With a single sign on you can access your facilities seamlessly and you will have visibility and traceability into your inventory at all times. You can drill down customer by customer all the way to the store shelf to understand inventory levels, including reverse logistics from the store back to the warehouse.
The point is, weather is an unpredictable phenomenon and the one thing business doesn’t respond well to is unpredictability. Mitigate unpredictability in the weather with predictability and total control of your inventory.
La Niñas come and go, but that doesn’t mean you have to worry about them, not when you’re running as resilient a supply chain as is made possible by cloud solutions.