OPINION: Reducing fallout in an emergency
The Amazon forest is the “lungs of the planet”, because it produces more than 20percent of the world's oxygen, which influences rainfall patterns as far afield as the US.
A massive 70percent of South America's gross domestic product is produced from areas that receive rainfall or water from the Amazon. As a result, many companies rely on raw materials and other goods, including meat, timber, oil, agriculture and pharmaceuticals, from this region. If your business was built on supply from this region, think what a detrimental impact the fires would have.
Although we can't predict or prevent these “acts of God” from happening, there are small measures we can put in place to reduce the fallout.
* Maintain enough insurance for your business and equipment. Many insurance companies won't cover damage that results from an “act of God”, or if they do, they will charge much higher monthly premiums. Be sure to get whatever cover you can.
* Know what natural disasters your region is prone to. If you are in Hong Kong, for example, there is the reality of cyclones; in South Africa, it may be drought; in Indonesia, earthquakes and tsunamis. Wildfires are frequent in forested areas of the US and Canada, highly vegetated areas of Australia and the Western Cape. Look at ways that you can equip your warehouse from a construction perspective. Wood and steel, for example, have more give than unreinforced concrete, so you would choose these materials when building in a fault zone. If your business is in an area where fires are frequent, you can create a parking lot or leave a large clearing of sand around your warehouse. This will act as a firebreak to spare your warehouse.
* Know in which countries your suppliers are located. Your fast-moving, essential stock items are your primary concern. By knowing where your suppliers are, and which of the natural disasters they are affected by, will enable you to build a list of contingency suppliers. These contingency supplies could meet your demand in an emergency.
* Have systems that provide you with real-time data. Real-time systems give companies the benefit of knowing exactly where their orders are at any given time. If you hear about a natural disaster and are unable to get in touch with your supplier, you can at least see where your orders are and take action.
* Have a range of transportation modes at your disposal. It is unusual for all modes of transport to be affected by a natural disaster. Ensure that you have access to and agreements with multiple transport companies within the various methods of transportation.
* Use cloud-based solutions. By using cloud solutions, it won't be detrimental to your business if all your on-premise hardware and software is destroyed. Having cloud-based solutions means that all your documents and company information are safely stored in the cloud. Also, your staff will be able to log back in from anywhere.
Collectively, by taking a close look at processes and implementing “greener” procedures, they can start to make a difference.
Craig de Kock is the president of US operations at Netstock.