What the Polar Vortex Tells Us About Electronic Inventory Storage

By Logan Wamsley

When discussing secure, long-term electronic inventory storage, it’s common to stick to the obvious risk associated with catastrophes such as fire, flooding, and earthquakes. These are very real dangers that obviously can have disastrous consequences for any supply chain – but in the bigger picture, the likelihood of these occurring is rare compared to some of the risk storage professionals combat on a daily basis.

Preparing for worst-case scenarios is important, but true long-term storage is a collection of processes that maintain optimal conditions and prevent disruptions, large and small, on a minute-to-minute basis. Resilinc, which is a company that specializes in assessing supply chain risk, writes:

“Bad weather tests the agility and resiliency of even the best supply chains. However, companies that manage weather-related disruptions as part of their event-monitoring best practices and supply chain risk management strategies tend to fare better than those that don’t take preventative measures…”

Today, the national eye has turned toward the Midwest, where temperatures from the polar vortex are expected to plummet as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit, posing a significant threat not just to inventory, but people. Facing such extreme duress, basic infrastructure features commonly taken for granted such as insulation and power come to the forefront. If a power generator fails and compromises a storage facility’s heating, for example, moisture-sensitive electronic components such as raw die and wafer stored in dry cabinets could be compromised in a matter of minutes.

Even more worrisome for supply chain professionals is the long-term outlook on how the changing climate is outpacing their ability to prepare. The flooding issues that struck Thailand in 2011, for example, caused approximately $15-$20 billion in insured damages. Companies that had grown to rely on Thai suppliers such as Western Digital, HP, and NEC all were caught off-guard and experienced significant losses. In total, the number of natural disasters has increased by 2.25 times since 1980, and many (Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, the Tohoku earthquake, etc.) were far beyond the scale any supply chain could reasonably expect.

This is why, in today’s supply chain, marginal protections against common disruptions related to the region are no longer sufficient. As recent years have proven, we can only rely on past experience to a point; cutting corners regarding proper inventory storage processes is not an option, because the potential losses in the alternative scenario are too great to ignore.

At Partstat, this belief is manifested in the construction of our custom storage vault. The only vault in the supply chain industry designed specifically for long-term electronic component storage, it has the capabilities to withstand hurricanes, floods, lightning storms, earthquakes, extreme cold, and heat over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In the case of a power outage, our vault also features a backup generator that will ensure functionality of our SmartDRY™ cabinets for die banking customers.

A comprehensive, blanket strategy such as custom vault storage, is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. And each day this new reality in the supply chain industry is not addressed by manufacturers is another day the risk of catastrophic inventory loss grows. Both practically and financially, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.

For more information about our vault and Partstat’s Critical Inventory Storage Solutions, click here.