Weathering the storm: Information and service play key crisis management roles
Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in approximately 90 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture, nutrition, electronics, communications, safety and protection, home and construction, transportation and apparel.
On August 25, 2005, residents of the US Gulf states held their breath. While only a Category 1 hurricane at the time, there was the potential for greater damage. Katrina had arrived. During the next four days, it would become the most destructive and costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.
DuPont has warehouses and distribution centers located throughout the Gulf region and handles a significant number of import and export shipments via the ports there. As DuPont was searching for transportation to bring in tents, medical supplies, cooking equipment, ice, and other much-needed items for the storm ravaged victims, the company also had its own product shipments to worry about.
At the height of the crisis, the key question for DuPont’s International Logistics Manager was: Where are the containers?
“That’s where BDP played a tremendous role for us,” she says. “They helped us establish the location of the containers and if they were in decent shape, or if they were under water. Even if we knew there were containers in a specific location, until a physical inspection was made, we did not know their condition.”
Understanding that the hurricane was approaching, BDP moved into a pre planning mode for DuPont’s imports and exports in the area.
The questions were, for cargo that had been delivered to a pier or a rail head, did it actually go as scheduled or was it still located at the port? “Using communications from our ocean carrier partners, we could look at the data through our track and trace capabilities via our customer service portal, BDPSmart.com, and get real-time updates,” says the BDP-DuPont Regional Account Executive.
“We were in the best position to respond thanks to our cargo tracking technology, intimacy with the client’s supply chain and our working relationship with the carriers,” BDP’s Global Account Executive adds.
BDP worked in tandem with area DuPont staff and ocean carriers to get the best results. At first, establishing contact was almost impossible but gradually, using text messaging via cell phones, BDP staff was able to determine the exact location of the freight and then direct the next steps. Once the Port of New Orleans reopened, BDP and DuPont were able to get in, assess status first hand, make decisions and take action.
“Information really was the key component in DuPont’s crisis management operations,” DuPont’s International Logistics Manager adds. “That’s why we need reliable outside resources like BDP. Their service was definitely above and beyond, as they responded to a series of chaotic events, which were constantly changing. We hope that nothing like this ever occurs again. But if it does, we know we can count on BDP.”
How DuPont benefits from working with BDP International:
- Uninterrupted visibility of shipments during crisis conditions
- Greater shipment visibility by providing snapshot of the supply chain
- Data consistency
- Enhanced cargo tracking technology
- Intimacy with the client’s supply chain
- Excellent working relationship with carriers
- Proactive planning
- Experience managing shipments during catastrophic events and environmental issues