April 08, 2015
How Manufacturing Is Impacted By Weather
It seems that everyday, there is a new story on the news about a powerful storm wreaking havoc in a foreign country, or even here in the United States. Record-breaking rainfall and snowstorms that threaten to shut down whole cities are starting to become the norm if the local news is to be believed. Given this increase in severe weather patterns around the globe, one has to wonder: What effect does this have on the manufacturing industry?
While there may still be a big debate about the cause of global warming, most people (no matter what side of the fence you are on) agree that the environmental phenomenon exists and that it has at least something to do with the current rash of extreme weather the world has been experiencing of late.
From hurricanes and tornadoes to blizzards, the manufacturing industry takes a hit each time one of these storms blasts through their territory. While machine breakdowns and workplace injuries are, for the most part, preventable to a large degree, there is not much you can do when a category 5 hurricane is on a direct collision course with your factory. In that instance, all you can do is secure your equipment, fasten the shutters, and head for safety. Hopefully, the plant will still be there when the storm passes!
Of course, domestic weather threats are not the only concern. While a severe storm in the United States can certainly cause problems for a manufacturing plant, imagine the devastation and nightmarish recovery time for a manufacturer that is based in a country with already-poor infrastructure. While plants here in the United States may suffer a shutdown for a few days after a major weather event, foreign companies may never open their doors again.
The same can be said for suppliers and vendors that supply manufacturing companies with spare parts and equipment. What does a business do if they rely on machinery from a business that is buried under multiple feet of snow? They don't make snow shovels big enough to solve that problem!
Severe weather is not the only climate change factor that affects the manufacturing sector. The lack of a type of weather, precipitation, in particular, can cause trouble as well. California is currently in the midst of a devastating drought that is driving up the cost of goods and making industries that rely on water as part of their process tighten their belts.
Droughts also lead to dried-up forests and brush, making lumber and food manufacturers suffer. In addition, these dry conditions lead to rampant wildfires: Mix these with already-tight water restrictions and you can very easily have a situation in which businesses decide to relocate. Once that trend begins to set in, it can be difficult to turn things back around for a city. What may once have been a thriving manufacturing haven can soon become a ghost town that is a shell of its former glory. Just take a look at Detroit for a good example.