Floods in the UK – procurement and supply chain consequences

It just gets worse in many parts of the UK.  Gale force winds, and rain, more rain. Towns and villages I know well like Datchet and Staines are really suffering, major railway lines are out of action, and thousands of people have now been evacuated from their homes. It must be horrible – we had a very minor roof leak just before Christmas, and there was something very distressing about that invasion of your ‘safe’ home – I can’t imagine how awful it must feel to see your entire ground flow submerged.

I’d imagine that a lot of procurement and supply chain folk are now caught up in some sort of contingency planning or actual disaster management activities.  What are the implications of these events in (broadly) business terms? Here are a few points that come to mind.

- Of course, we need to know if key suppliers are affected or may be affected – their factories or other premises may be in flooded areas. On that note, we’ve featured a couple of firms who were starting to link mapping with sourcing or supplier information processes (Trade Extensions here and Sourcemap here). It would certainly be interesting at the moment to be able to pull up a map showing which suppliers are based in the Thames Valley, for instance.

- Transport routes are being disrupted, so even if the supplier is not affected, their ability to get goods from A to B may be. Again, understanding the supply chain and logistics issues behind key suppliers is vital.

- Some organisations will be finding that staff are affected. South West trains had problems on Friday because of crew shortages – presumably some of those were caught up in the floods or had issues with getting to work. Are any procurement functions being affected in this way, we wonder?

- On that note, might this be another boost to the move towards more remote working – video or teleconferencing for instance. If your organisation hasn’t got the right deals in place to support more use of those technologies, that might be worth thinking about.

- We will see shortages of certain items no doubt – not just sandbags perhaps, but as we mentioned before, this must have an effect on agricultural crops, not just now but into the next few months. I should be starting to plant my first vegetable seeds in the next week or two. It’s not going to happen. They won’t germinate in a swamp, however mild the temperature may be. And I’ve only just caught on the great Californian drought ....

Any other flood related issues we should be thinking about?

First Voice

  1. Dan:

    Would this provide a boost to those suppliers who are in the less affected parts of the country (like the north east) as customers switch to them and away from their suppliers in the flood zones?

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