The World Economic Forum ranked extreme weather as the biggest risk facing our world in 2019. For supply chain professionals, weather events and natural disasters are topping the list of things keeping them up at night.

In the past year alone, supply chain professionals were forced to manage weather disruptions associated with:

  • A winter storm in the US Midwest with a wind chill factor of negative 40-50 degrees that shuttered all domestic and international shipments.
  • California wildfires shutting down rail lines and trucking routes leading from major ports.
  • A severe drought in Europe that caused record-low levels on the Rhine River, severely inhibiting shipping traffic in Germany and France.
  • Typhoons and other catastrophic weather events that routinely disrupted shipping and production in East Asia and the Northern Indian Ocean.

To give some indication of the cost of these events, consider that a dozen weather-related “disasters” were recorded in the US last year. Each of these events totaled net business losses in excess of $1 billion. Hurricane Michael alone surpassed $15 billion in property and business losses.

Large global companies with extended supply chains often employ specific personnel to monitor weather events and their impact on the supply chain. And many employ some type of weather service or reporting. Increasingly, companies are turning to technology to help them mitigate the impact of extreme weather events. These solutions can help organizations predict weather events and enable them to take preemptive action to minimize related impacts and costs.

However, the challenge is that these solutions often have limited capabilities and can be difficult to integrate with existing supply chain systems. Despite implementation challenges, weather insights are so critical that some supply chain organizations still choose to undertake the task, often with timetables approaching close to a year.

Reach clear skies

To help supply chain clients quickly capitalize on weather data and overcome integration and implementation challenges, IBM developed the Weather Connector. The Weather Connector integrates comprehensive, real-time weather data from The Weather Company. This allows users to see and understand the impact of weather events on their supply chain, including inbound and outbound supply.

The Weather Connector offers a broad range of weather services – including alerts based on global weather information and detailed data from more than 40 countries. It also uses an open platform to bring in third-party weather and data services and solutions. This out-of-the-box connector enables companies to experience the benefits of weather information integration, without any integration costs or the significant timelines necessary with other solutions.

Clients with IBM Sterling Supply Chain Insights with Watson can see the immediate impacts of the Weather Connector with a trial service that can be simply “switched on.” This gives clients a chance to test the capability without the heavy cost and time commitment of integrating a stand-alone solution. The Weather Connector is also easy to use. This translates into frontline users being able to leverage it immediately to see immediate impacts of weather on supply, shipping and logistics, and orders.

IBM Sterling Supply Chain Insights and the Weather Connector are part of the IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite, an open platform with hybrid-cloud support that enables organizations to quickly and easily integrate their own data and networks – and the data and networks of their suppliers and customers.  IBM offers other connector services similar in concept, including those for risk insights, supplier information and track and trace.

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