Thursday, January 5, 2012

Logistics Operators Face Up To Extreme Conditions as Freight Deliveries Affected

Extreme Weather World Wide Affects Supply Chains
Shipping News Feature

UK - AUSTRALIA – NEW ZEALAND – Weather is a factor that all freight and logistics companies are used to dealing with and if it be snow slowing deliveries or incessant rain, somehow the cargo normally gets through. As 2012 begins however there seem to be more problems than usual with the climatic conditions that are affecting the supply chain.

In Britain today, at a time of year more usual for a big freeze, mild stormy weather prevails and major motorway and other road bridges were closed for the second time this week as gale force winds suspended crossings at the Dartford Bridge on the M25, the Humber Bridge on the M62 and other points like the Ouse bridge in Yorkshire for trucks and other traffic. Meanwhile across the world we see the dichotomy of the well publicised floods in Northern Australia whilst Dunedin in New Zealand faces up to its worst drought during the driest period ever recorded with fire bans being put in place across the South whilst the North Island faces no such problems.

In Australia farmers suffering from the recent drought in southern areas like Victoria were no doubt delighted as the weather resulted in a bumper grain harvest but now accusations are being made about the inability to ship the crops quickly enough on the deregulated rail freight services and the supply chain is over reliant on road haulage which critics say is simply to inefficient to cope with the glut of agricultural product destined for the ports. The broad gauge rolling stock was sold by the Government to Pacific national some years ago and is now used almost exclusively by the regular shipments coming from the areas mines. Port Melbourne is also being criticised locally as unable to cope with the seasonal excesses of grain.

The dry weather has caused more problems for truckers in areas as separate as Victoria and Perth where bushfires are causing road closures yet, as the Northern regions recover from the recent floods, 2011 went down countrywide as the third coolest and wettest since records began. One statement from the Insurance Australia Group (IAG) states ‘2011 has been one of the toughest years ever for insurers in Australia, punctuated by flooding, cyclones, earthquakes and bushfires’ with predictions that both Australia and New Zealand are likely to see more extremes of weather as the years pass.

Even without the latest problems insurance costs are likely to rise for all sectors, including freight and logistics operators. With A$22 billion being paid out in New Zealand just for the claims resulting from the Queensland floods and Christchurch earthquake last year the two countries accounted for well over 30% of claims for natural disasters in 2011.

Worldwide many are considering that what are now being thought of as extremes may well be the result of global warming, whether man made or not, and if the climate we see emerging today might not indeed be considered normal in years to come, with the resultant increase in costs for all.

Photo: Taken by our Thai office during the recent floods there.