The first major snowstorm of the season has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights in the Midwest and caused a Fed Ex cargo plane to slide off the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
No one was hurt in the accident, but only one runway is now open at O’Hare, according to airport officials.
The storm is affecting business from Texas to Michigan. A fifty-mile stretch of I-70 across mid-Missouri is still closed due to heavy snowfall. Parts of Missouri were coated with as much as three inches of ice, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm is currently moving northeast, with blizzard and storm warnings for Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine.
All this is causing trouble for people trying to get around the Midwest, but the supply chain is still running smoothly.
According to Cliff Waldman, Economist at the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, winter storms are just part of doing business.
“The weather can slow things down a bit, but manufacturers are better equipped to handle storms now than 10 years ago,” Waldman said. “The ‘have it when you need it’ mentality of lean manufacturing helps to minimize inventories and improve the technology of the supply chain system.”
Improving the sophistication of the supply chain for globalization has also helped to improve local supply chain management as well, according to Waldman.
“By moving towards a more efficient supply chain and a global supply chain, snowstorms are not a major issue for manufacturers,” Waldman said. “Interruptions to the supply chain can be very costly.”
Companies have made large investments, in both capital and the human element to help keep the supply chain on track, according to Waldman and manufacturers have examined all types of scenarios in preparation to keep things running smoothly.
“Terrorism and the bird flu is more of a challenge,” Waldman said.