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Navigating Port Strike: A Contingency Plan for SMEs

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of global trade, unexpected challenges can quickly manifest. The recent tumultuous port strike in British Columbia stands as a testament to this. Industries and supply chains across Canada found themselves grappling with a paralyzed system due to a prolonged contractual disagreement.


Fortunately, proactive planning can cushion the impact. Here, we delve into a comprehensive contingency plan to help SMEs navigate port disruptions.


1. Reimagining Storage with Shared and Satellite Warehouses

Pooling resources with fellow SMEs can lead to cost-effective shared warehouse solutions. Additionally, satellite warehouses at diverse locations ensure a quicker response to supply chain hitches.


2. Diversifying the Supply Chain

Placing all your eggs in one basket, like relying on a single port or supplier, can be a recipe for disaster. Branch out – cultivate relationships with suppliers from varied regions and utilize multiple ports.


3. Stay Updated with Regular Monitoring

Knowledge is power. Subscribing to port news or setting up alerts can provide a heads-up on potential disruptions. Coupled with increased inventory during volatile periods, SMEs can create a buffer against uncertainties.


4. Exploring Alternative Transportation

Air and road transport might be more expensive than maritime routes, but they can be lifesavers during port closures. Building relationships with providers across these modes can ensure business continuity.


5. Harnessing the Power of Technology

In our digital age, investing in advanced shipment tracking systems isn't a luxury – it's a necessity. Real-time updates allow for swift, informed decisions that can make all the difference during crises.


6. Building Strong Partnerships

Your shipping company or customs agent isn't just another vendor – they're your allies. Strong ties with them can offer invaluable support, insights, and workaround solutions during disruptions.


7. Financial Preparedness with Contingency Funds

Disruptions often come with unforeseen expenses – rerouting charges, storage fees, or even penalties. A dedicated contingency fund can help absorb these financial shocks.


8. Contractual Flexibility

Incorporating flexibility clauses in contracts can be a saving grace. It offers the leeway to adjust operations during disruptions without incurring heavy penalties or souring business relationships.


9. Engaging Stakeholders

Open and transparent communication can foster trust and lead to collaborative problem-solving. Regularly updating stakeholders, from suppliers to customers, can streamline crisis management.


10. Inventory Management

Consider stockpiling a little extra during high-risk periods. This ensures customer demands are met, even if supplies are momentarily disrupted.




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