Hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, fires, floods – these are just some of the disasters that can endanger people and property. They can also endanger your products – even within the seemingly safe confines of a 3PL warehouse. With such disasters becoming more commonplace, it seems like a good time to review warehouse business continuity plans and what your 3PL provider can and should have in place to protect your products.
What is a warehouse business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a detailed document which details the preparedness measures a company will take to ensure that business is uninterrupted during an emergency. A warehousing version of such a plan assigns roles and responsibilities to 3PL personnel to protect the safety of employees and the integrity of facilities, products, and equipment when an emergency happens.
The main goal of a warehouse BCP is to minimize the impact of potential disruptions and swiftly resume normal operations, ensuring minimal or no downtime. This helps to maintain customer satisfaction, protect the brand’s reputation, and ensure the overall resilience of the business.
What does a warehouse business continuity plan contain?
To give you a clear picture of what a 3PL warehouse business continuity plan contains, let’s look at our own. Kanban Logistics is an Eastern North Carolina 3PL with over 1.5 million square feet of warehousing space. As an ISO-9001-certified company, we are required to maintain a business continuity plan that anticipates a range of possible events. The plan contains the following elements.
- High-level roles and responsibilities. Our plan designates Kanban’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) as being responsible for managing an emergency response. This includes delegation and assignment of duties for a timely and orderly restoration of operations to normal.
- Advance preparation. This type of planning typically prepares for storms that arrive with advance notice (e.g., hurricanes and snowstorms). It includes elements like preparing generators, performing IT system backup, fueling vehicles, planning for repopulation of the workforce if mandatory evacuation is ordered, and relocating critical equipment to a safe zone. For more details, check out our article on supply chain preparedness.
- Storm damage. When a storm does strike, advanced preparation steps are put into action and personnel assignments are made for responsibilities like damage assessments and contacting outside labor agencies to bring in extra help. There are also employee directives should mandatory evacuation be necessary. After the storm passes, a review will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan elements, identify potential improvements, and ensure that documentation is in order.
- Fire. In accordance with the facility’s safety plan, all facility personnel are trained on escaping from the warehouse during a fire event. Data and critical electronic information back-ups are stored offsite and can be restored from one of many locations throughout the region quickly. If necessary, customer product not damaged by fire will be relocated as soon as possible to other Kanban facilities within the region.
- Equipment failure. Kanban’s business is structured with sufficient equipment and staffing – along with the resources to obtain additional equipment – to ensure continuation of operations.
- Power outage. In the event of an outage, facilities will utilize back-up generators.
- Physical security breach. Intruders are always considered dangerous, and protecting personnel is of primary importance. Until law enforcement officials are available to take control of the situation, employees are to avoid confrontation and follow safety plan guidelines.
- Terrorism. Any act of terrorism will be reported to the proper law enforcement authorities and full cooperation will be provided. Any property damage will be assessed, and necessary repairs made on a timely basis according to acceptable business practices.
- Interruption of computer services. While such interruptions can have many causes, risk is mitigated by back-up plans involving remote equipment and support of IT vendors. The COO will direct restoration efforts in conjunction with these vendors.
Kanban’s warehouse business continuity plan is a key component of a larger company-wide effort that includes quality and safety measures in accordance with ISO-9001. The most recent version of ISO-9001 (ISO-9001:2015) emphasizes “risk-based thinking” – a proactive approach to risk management, which is defined as a “systematic application of information, knowledge, and actions to address uncertainty and potential opportunity.”
Lean on Kanban for warehousing peace of mind
As the old adage goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” The time to plan for an emergency is well in advance of it – not when disaster strikes and chaos reigns. Kanban takes these words to heart and goes to great lengths to keep our employees safe, and our customers’ products protected.
Safety is a key part of our culture and our reputation. To learn more about the value of entrusting your products to a North Carolina 3PL provider that will go the extra mile to ensure their safety, contact Kanban Logistics today.