From the Northeast Atlantic region to Atlanta, Texas, the Midwest and more, the 2013-2014 winter disrupted — if not halted — bakery distribution throughout the country. As spring’s severe weather risks rapidly approach, it’s important to remember that although no one can ever control, or even predict, Mother Nature’s plans, there are some precautions companies can take that might help get the product where it needs to be.

The best thing a bakery can do is plan ahead. And, although no one likes to assume the worst, it’s better to anticipate when times are good than scramble when they’re bad.

“By knowing your company’s areas of vulnerability and carrying enough stock in critical raw materials, bakeries can keep production moving,” advised Clay Gentry, vice-president, logistics operations for Transportation Insight, Hickory, N.C. “Although some events create infrastructure challenges that limit the ability to deliver materials, a good contingency plan, one that includes strong strategic relationships with vendors such as a third-party logistics provider, can help companies reduce risk.”

In terms of hardware, fleet managers must keep the climate and geography of the routes in mind when purchasing new vehicles and consider features such as engine block heaters and anti-slip products.

Lastly, it’s important for bakeries to communicate with customers in order to maintain an appropriate level of safety stock, especially during seasons when unexpected weather is likely to strike in particular regions.