Freight brokers and 3PLs must understand the risks associated with completing a freight shipment.

Mitigating risk and overcoming challenges are essential to succeed in the transportation management space.

Each step of a shipment is an obstacle on its own:

  • Sourcing capacity
  • Choosing a carrier
  • Load tendering
  • Visibility
  • ETA and delivery
  • Order invoicing

But how often do freight brokers ask the question…

“How much will the weather impact our freight?”

Weather impact, no matter how negligible, is unavoidable. Brokers, carriers, and truckers are constantly affected by the weather no matter the location.

The solution is for brokers and their partners to utilize impact scores and real time updates to better understand how weather will affect their freight shipments.

Little thought goes into meteorology and the reality of weather influence on the trucks ability to complete a load.

How Does Weather Negatively Affect Transportation And Challenge Freight Shipments?

Modern big rig blue semi truck with covered semi trailer driving on twilight rainy wet highway with headlight traffic reflection of the rain drops

Roads are the veins and arteries of this country and truckers are the blood cells. With clogged up roadways due to poor weather conditions, freight becomes severely disrupted, affecting the entire supply chain and the people that depend on it.

Checking future weather forecasts won’t give brokers insight into impact, tracking, delays, and traffic.

Here are the challenges associated with weather and freight:

Delays – Snow, rain, and wind can cause major setbacks for freight deliveries. Delays back up the supply chain. Stores are now out of product stock, customers become unsatisfied, and the supply chain is left waiting.

Safety – More important than freight, severe weather poses threats to truck drivers and the routes they serve.

Traditional Weather Data – Weather applications on smartphones may tell you the severity of the weather, but it won’t describe how it affects freight, road conditions, driver safety, and overall impact. Guessing the affect of weather on your freights journey is costly and dangerous.

Regional Weather Differences – With freight lanes spanning the entire country, weather is bound to change from one location to the next. Keeping up to date with all the locations and continuous changes in weather is difficult and time consuming.

Weather Impact – Not all weather is created equal. Weather will impact different locations in a variety of ways. 6 inches of snow will impact major metropolitan cities differently to 6 inches of snow in the Midwest.

Customer Service – Delivering on time isn’t just courteous, it’s a requirement. Consistent delayed shipments lead to poor customer management and relationships.

Weather Related Costs & Losses

red truck on the highway in the mountains during heavy snowfall.

The most taxing of all weather-related losses to a broker can be associated to increased costs and lost revenue.

When carriers fulfill shipments, they rent their trucks and/or drivers for an allocated amount of time (usually by the hour) to a broker. If a truck is taking too long to complete a shipment, then brokers will be charged for the extra time needed to complete the shipment. These are known as detention fees.

When weather slows down or stops shipments, detention fees go up.

In general, detention fees start anywhere from $50-$250 an hour. Just a few extra hours of delivery time can mean thousands of dollars in fees to the broker.

Solution: Descartes MacroPoint Capacity Integration with Weather Optics

Big rig industrial white semi truck with turned on headlights transporting cargo in dry van semi trailer running on the night dark twilight wet road with reflection on surface in rain weather

Descartes MacroPoint’s recent integration with Weather Optics helps brokers combat weather related challenges.

Weather Optics provides users with impact scores, to better gauge the effects of weather on freight delivery all the way down to the road level.

Easy to understand, these impact scores are given on a number scale, the higher the score the more extreme the storm/weather disruption for shipments.

How does Weather Optics determine impact scores?

Data is extrapolated from various partners, public & private datasets, weather models, and more. From there, machine learning-based weather impact models blend and run the different data together to attain the most accurate outputs. Weather Optics also uses years of historical data and accuracy testing to optimize for the best results.

Utilize Data and Impact Scores

Not all data is created equal.

Weather comes in many different forms and will have adverse effects based on region and climate. Weather Optics meets the challenge by offering a variety of impact scores to help brokers improve delivery performance:

  • Road conditions – Weather-based driving risk and danger calculated from traffic flow and road capacity under various conditions
  • Flooding – Risk and danger of flooding based on rainfall and local hydrological factors
  • Power Outages – Power outage risk based on weather, customer density, and other landscape factors on a 0-5 scale
  • Life & Property – Weather-based danger to human life and risk for property damage
  • Business Disruption – Quantifies overall weather-based interference by dynamically weighting sub-indices based on current conditions
  • Temperature – Indicates how extreme temperatures are vs. climatological norms
  • Speed Reduction/Traffic – Indicates how much slower traffic will travel as a result of the weather, expressed as a percentage decrease from typical speed
  • Wildfires – Indicates percentage of zip code area inside an active wildfire

With the right data and better understanding of weather, brokers can take on loads with more confidence. When Weather Optics provides insights to troubling impact scores, brokers are able to react proactively, and communicate with their customers/partners to potential delays and time constraints. The result is improved supply chain visibility and flow.