Weather conditions are one of the biggest contributing factors to vehicle accidents on the road and lead to over 1.2 million crashes every year, according to data from the US Department of Transportation. Whether rain is leading to wet pavement, snow and ice are causing slippery roads, or fog is causing sudden reductions in visibility, conditions can change in an instant and cause to numerous hazards for drivers.
This can easily spell trouble for the road logistics and supply chain industry, which employs more than 3.5 million truck drivers as of 2021. Ensuring the safety of drivers along every mile of their routes is of the utmost importance, not only to safeguard their health and well-being but to also to maintain favorable work environments and high retention rates.
Successful supply chain management starts with safety, and maintaining proper safety levels on the road begins with staying ahead of the weather forecast with the proper insights.
To understand how leaders in the industry overcome safety challenges brought about by weather, we spoke with Bill Hamlin, a supply chain expert with over 35 years of experience as the former COO of ITS ConGlobal, former CEO of Horizon Lines, and former Executive Vice President of Norwegian Cruise Lines and current customer of Tomorrow.io.
While data might not be literally driving your cargo from point A to point B, it’s data that powers your operations. Successful supply chain management requires predictability — and with the weather, a forecast just isn’t enough.
“Having the type of information Tomorrow.io can provide and being able to reach into that individual location and tie events to actions across the end-to-end supply chain impacts predictability and ultimately your reliability.”
Starting the Day with Employee Safety
For Hamlin, every day of operations should start with a safety briefing. This can include any day-to-day reminders, but more often than not, it comes down to current conditions, especially for any severe or concerning weather events. In the case of a high heat index, local supervisors can warn staff and make sure they take breaks and get water as needed.
“At ITS ConGlobal, Tomorrow.io was a daily — and sometimes hourly — tool that gets as granular as you need so teams can prepare and take action during any type of weather, from heat to air quality to severe storms. Knowing what your operation is going to be, being able to instruct your personnel in terms of what safety precautions to take, makes the work that much safer.”
The key is being prepared for anything. Hamlin cites one example where heavy winds meant adjusting stack heights of containers at their container depot or intermodal facility. Otherwise, the team risked stacks blowing over and damaging equipment, cargo, or harming employees.
More recently, in the Northwest, air quality is what concerns Hamlin. Understanding the air quality index and any nearby forest fires gives their team the data they need to suspend operations if need be, while making sure that everyone is safe.
Securing Equipment and Cargo
Logistics is all about moving cargo from one place to another. Keeping that cargo secure — whether it’s batteries or baseballs — requires a deep understanding of weather patterns, especially with severe weather.
“Tomorrow.io brings in weather dynamics that talk in minutes rather than hours, and…can make a huge difference when it comes to keeping everything secure.”
With weather intelligence software, drivers and dispatchers can use more information to determine pre-routing, look at general conditions, and make data-driven decisions. During the journey, managers constantly monitor and evaluate the weather and make adjustments, looking at wind speed, road conditions, and more.
Within Tomorrow.io, you can easily build insights and protocols directly into the software, so you’re not dependent on one person or a sheet of paper to know what to do in the event of a weather change. That way, they know how to most efficiently and safely drive from point A to point B.