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Logistics and Shipping

Our weather and climate data add business value to express couriers and logistics providers such as UPS and FedEx, as well as the vast U.S. freight rail network. These industries use NCEI information to reduce risks that can cause costly delivery disruptions or endanger workers and the general public. As the chief repository of NOAA weather data, NCEI data give companies insight to prepare for and deal with poor traveling conditions, extreme events, and legal issues that affect this $1.48 trillion segment of the U.S. economy.   

Managing weather risks and improving services with appropriate data strengthen other segments of the U.S. economy. With tens of millions of packages due for delivery each day, a single delay causes ripple effects for many businesses and citizens.

For bulk goods, the U.S. freight rail network transports five million tons of cargo on a daily basis. As a system interconnected with many other sectors, such as energy, retail, and agriculture, a disruption in transport or logistics can introduce gaps in the broader supply chain and the economy. Demand for weather and climate data take on greater importance to support commerce in this and other sectors.

Case Study

The Success Stories on User Engagement report for January 2018 provides detailed information about applications and use cases for NCEI data in the Logistics and transportation Sector.

Industry Spotlights

In the express courier industry, which expedites time-sensitive documents, small parcels, and high-value items, NCEI’s historical records are used to reduce weather risks and optimize performance. For instance, data from our Integrated Surface Database (ISD) have contributed to the International Station Meteorological Climate Summary (ISMCS). ISMCS, which is often referred to as the “climate disk,” contains detailed historical summaries of daily, hourly, and monthly reports of air temperature, precipitation, wind, clouds, pressure, and various other elements from 640 primary weather observation sites and more than 5,800 secondary sites worldwide.

Companies that make up a large portion of this $82 billion industry depend on the ISMCS for many applications, such as:

  • Landing visibility minimums
  • Strategic planning of airport locations
  • Deicing decisions
  • Transport of temperature-sensitive goods
  • Weather model verification
     

For railroads, a major provider of long-haul freight, NCEI weather and climate data reduce vulnerabilities to rail infrastructure when changes in temperature and weather conditions occur.

NCEI weather and climate data help railroads reduce vulnerabilities to rail infrastructure when changes in temperature and weather conditions occur. The $60 billion industry transports coal, raw metal ores, agricultural commodities, and consumer goods while relying on third-party weather service products that use analyzed versions of NCEI Data. Our Local Climatological Data (LCD), Integrated Surface Daily Database (ISD), and Global Historical Climatology Network daily (GHCNd) provide a foundation for freight management. These data products help support historical event analysis to inform risk management, provide weather-related evidence to support legal claims, and enhance network optimization.

On the ground, decision makers can use the data to avoid disruptions in service. Tornados and high winds can topple rail cars, and avalanches in mountainous regions can block tracks. Landslides, mudslides, erosion, and floods can damage tracks, culverts, and bridges. Cold temperatures can cause broken rails, toppling of rock slopes, frost heaves, and icing of switches. Additionally, high temperatures and direct exposure to sunlight can cause sun kinks.

For instance, during high heat, railway heat tolerance thresholds can be analyzed and compared to current conditions before breaches happen. Preemptively, train speeds can be decreased, loads can be reduced during peak heat, and railway workers can be dispatched to search for visible signs of track damage.