A couple of weeks ago the Northeast was hit with a blizzard that brought heavy snowfall and high winds, which caused disruption for families and businesses. People lost power, highways were closed and almost 5,000 flights were cancelled. However, logistics and transportation providers reported minimal disruption thanks to their well-established contingency measures, as well as the timing of the storm. They were prepared.

Ryder operations faced minimal disruptions due to the blizzard. Ryder executives said that because the storm arrived at the end of the week, most of the business had been concluded for that week.

Mark Cicchini, Ryder’s vice president of operations for fleet management solutions, said that Ryder customers and employees had paid attention to the state emergency department’s alerts of when to be off the roads, and were able to implement a controlled shutdown. “We implemented our usual pre-winter storm check list for our maintenance facilities – things like confirming with snow removal providers when they could get to our facilities,” said Cicchini. “We also have a very strategic process for moving our trucks around at each location to plan for the snow removal process – we move and station vehicles differently so the snow plows can get in and have a place to push the snow so it doesn’t block traffic in and out of our shops.”

Dick Jennings, vice-president of automotive for the company’s Supply Chain Solutions, agreed by sharing, “There are plans in place to cover these situations, which were implemented especially at the tail end of the week. Usually the auto makers respond and we implement the plans. Typically there are workarounds or pull ahead of inventory for a day or two before the storms.”

Ryder took several precautions. They moved service vehicles inside so they were ready for deployment once business reopened. They ordered additional fuel supplies. And they maintained lines of communication open with all employees. They faced no power outages or damage to facilities. Most importantly, no employees were affected.

Because of their contingency planning, the ports on the northeast coast also seem to have beaten the worst affects of the storm. This storm had very mild impacts in comparison to the chaos caused by Hurricane Sandy back in November, which caused weeks-long power outages, wreaked havoc on transportation, and caused damages amounting to millions of dollars in vehicle inventory at the ports and dealers.

This time around, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) planned carefully to minimize disruption, including deploying 1,000 trained staff and putting together snow-fighting equipment to deal with harsh conditions at its air and sea ports, tunnels, bridges and PATH system. More than 200 pieces of snow and ice equipment were placed at airports and more than 60 at different bridges and tunnel feeding areas. Authorities also providing more than 2,000 tons of salt and more than 1,500 tons of sand for roads and parking lots at the airport. They also provided an additional 2,000 tons of salt for bridges and tunnels. Planning ahead also helped to avoid any major disruptions to any of the railroads.

By planning ahead and having a good contingency plan in place, you can avoid major disruptions to your supply chain. If you do not already have a plan in place, it is important to work with your team to document one ahead of time, so you can be prepared if a natural disaster should strike.