After a week of torrential rain finally subsided, South Carolinians began to survey the damage to their road systems, battered by the record-level flooding. The storm is part of an exceptional weather pattern that poured more than a foot of rain across South Carolina and drenched several other states. According to the National Weather Service, Sunday was the wettest day in the history of South Carolina's capital city, Columbia.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has said the downpour is the kind of storm seen only once in 1,000 years, causing the deaths of nine people within the state and two additional deaths in North Carolina. Haley also noted that 550 roads and bridges were closed across South Carolina, and all will have to be checked for structural integrity. Repairs could take many weeks to complete, delaying or stopping normal transportation throughout the region.
In an El Niño year, devastating storms like the one in South Carolina are expected to continue for months, so companies need to prepare their supply chains. If you think this doesn’t apply to your business, think again. Weather disasters can devastate any supplier at any time, not just those in the path of El Niño. For example, in 2000, mobile-phone manufacturer Ericsson lost $400 million in sales revenue because of a single lightning strike. The lightning hit a power line in Albuquerque, New Mexico, causing a massive surge in the surrounding electrical grid, which in turn started a fire at a local plant owned by Royal Philips Electronics, N.V., destroying millions of microchips. Unfortunately, Ericsson employed a single-sourcing policy. As a result, when the Philips plant shut down after the fire, Ericsson had no other source of microchips, which interrupted production for months and cost the company big.
Weather-Proofing Your Business
One of the best ways you can prepare your company for weather-related supply chain disruption is to know your suppliers. “As industries have grown increasingly globalized, so have their sources of raw materials and component parts,” explains Erica E. Phillips. “Experts advise companies to map out supplier networks so they’ll know what’s at risk of being cut off by extreme weather.”
Another strategy is to identify alternative suppliers. Companies should never rely on a single source of supply – the state of California joined Ericsson in learning that lesson the hard way when the supplier of its certificate paper closed suddenly and left residents unable to obtain birth, marriage, or death certificates for months.
The single-supplier rule is especially true if there is a high chance of a key supplier being affected by El Niño. The storms have already started to make an impact, so you should secure backup sources of supply now, before something goes wrong. Luckily, tools like Ariba Discovery empower you to find and qualify new suppliers quickly and easily. The tool makes it simple to evaluate, compare, and respond to proposals by receiving responses in a single location, with the exact details needed.
Bad weather is bound to strike. By developing a proactive plan, you can insure your company has the right resources to ride out any storm and sail into sunnier days ahead.