Storm coming? Bad weather and shipping containers can be a bad combination.
High winds, rain, ice, hurricanes, and other types of weather can put the safety of your employees — and cargo — at risk. With ships containing anywhere from $29 million to $135 million in property, damaging or losing any shipping containers due to weather costs your organization millions.
And it’s more common than you’d think.
The World Shipping Council determined that collectively, organizations lose 568 containers a year. This doesn’t include catastrophic weather events, but due to everyday bad weather that ships and ports deal with on a regular basis. In 2019, MSC Zoe made headlines when they lost 290 containers from Portugal to Bremerhaven because of high waves and wind.
Bigger weather events create delays and damages at ports, too. Hurricane Dorian closed East Coast ports for several days in 2019. The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season recorded 31 tropical depressions, 30 storms, and 6 major hurricanes, making it the most active in recent memory.
Weather impacts the entire port operations process, most significantly influencing arrival, cargo transfer, and storage.
5 Ways Bad Weather Impacts Shipping Containers (and What to Do About It)
Deciding when to shut down facilities and cancel or delay shipments due to adverse weather conditions strikes a difficult balance between keeping crew and goods safe, and ensuring profitability. While there are all kinds of bad weather to manage, these five types pose the greatest risk to maritime operations:
1. High Winds
Not only is it unsafe for crane operators during high winds, but it also increases the risk of dropping containers and damaging other cargo or equipment. A strong wind can destabilize a container when it is being lifted and the crane operator may be unable to control it. These loads can cause severe damage if they hit equipment or structures.
Crane operations need to be suspended when wind gusts exceed 30 MPH, while the crane itself needs to be taken down if gusts are predicted to be above 40 MPH. Track winds to specific MPH and direction in order to start, stop, or suspend crane operations.
2. Extreme Temperatures
Ships often carry perishable goods, such as meat, fish, dairy products, fruit, vegetables, and pharmaceuticals. Temperature changes can lead to increased condensation, which adds moisture that ruins the inside of the shipping container. Sensitive cargo to temperature can increase the odds of spoilage, especially in warmer weather.
Mapping temperature changes and risks allow you to prioritize which loads need to be moved first to prevent damage and delays.
3. High Waves
Choppy waters can cause items to move, fall, or break in transit. The loading and unloading process presents a particular challenge, causing ships and containers to tip over the side, or cranes to drop and damage cargo.
If this happens, the ship or port equipment will likely suffer significant collateral damage or it may even sink. With knowledge of wind advisories and detailed forecasts, coordinate loading and unloading times to minimize this risk.
Fog, rain, sleet, and snow can all create visibility issues, causing a host of problems from cargo transfer to worker safety. Poor visibility can make it dangerous to operate cranes, trucks, and other vehicles. Not only can this damage cargo, but it can endanger the safety of your team.
Save thousands to tens of thousands per day by scheduling crew and shift work during ideal weather conditions to avoid waste — and keep them safer.
5. Storms and Lightning
The introduction of rain across port operations slows efficiency, causes unpredictability from wind and lightning, and can cause an unsafe working environment for workers. Lightning can be hazardous in a number of areas, but crane operation specifically needs to be managed when lightning is 10 miles away.
Snow adds another dimension, requiring you to engage with a snow removal contractor or do it yourself so that employees and truckers can arrive in the parking lot, and to de-ice so vehicles and personnel can work safely.
Monitor storm conditions in real-time with hyperlocal forecasting so you can predict the financial impact, delays, and prepare appropriately.
Keep Bad Weather and Shipping Containers from Mixing with Tomorrow.io
You’re probably already plugged into major weather events like storms and understand the risks for shipping and port operations. But many organizations miss the bigger picture of how climate impacts everything about their supply chain operations, whether that’s making sure you’re staffing employees safely, mitigating collateral damage, closing and opening at optimal hours, and more.
“Being able to predict what’s going to happen, prepare for it, and manage through an event is very powerful. And it can save your business hundreds of thousands of dollars when it comes to your equipment, team, and operations.” – Bill Hamlin, COO of ITS ConGlobal
With Tomorrow.io, you can move from reactive to proactive. Predictive analytics give you the tools to understand exactly what type of weather is coming, with actionable forecasts in an easy to understand dashboard that shows you exactly how the weather impacts your operations.
Instead of scrambling to adapt to the weather, you’ll have time to prepare, automate, and adapt, all while following your specific guidelines or protocols for employees.