Hurricane Irma Impact on Manufacturing: The Sunshine State Goes Dark

When natural disasters occur it’s important to bounce back, whether it be a private residence or an entire industry, resilience is key. The energy and manufacturing industry in the Florida area took a hit from the most recent hurricane to roll onto their shores. Hurricane Irma cut power to at least 4.7 million customers, froze all tanker traffic and forced 6,000 gasoline stations to close but assessment of the damages are just beginning.

Known for their strong agricultural roots, Florida is also a hub for aerospace manufacturing and international trade. Bringing critical regions of the state to a stand still could have a lasting impact on the manufacturing industry in the area and across the country. Furthermore, Irma could threaten upwards of $1.2 billion worth of crops, one of the state’s largest exports.

When it comes to fuel terminals and pipelines, Exxon Mobil Corp. warned they have been shut down in preparation for the storm. The country is already wrestling with the fallout from Hurricane Harvey, where pipelines were shut down or damaged, causing gas prices to jump throughout the United States. It’s too early to tell if closing the pipelines in the south east could add to these energy worries.

Now with Hurricane Irma continuing up the west coast of the sunshine state, a better assessment of the damage can now begin. Manufacturers wonder what the damage to the state’s critical infrastructure will mean for their facilities, workforce and business. NextEra Energy Inc,’s Florida Power & Lighting utility warned customers on Sunday that it’s possible that power may be out for weeks. They explained that some parts of their system may need to be completely rebuilt.

Irma isn’t just holding back manufacturing in Florida, Hyundai’s largest North American assembly plant in central Alabama is bracing for the remnants of the storm. Hyundai will suspend operations on Monday afternoon and is expected to last until Tuesday however this can change depending on the severity of the storm. The plant spokesman, Robert Burns mentioned that this could impact operations around the country. “It’s about how it’s impacting our logistics,” He stated. “We’re waiting to see what the weather does”

Keeping up with the latest developments from these storms will be absolutely vital for manufacturers all around the country. Understanding what critical links throughout the supply chain were affected and when they will be able to recover is critical. Be sure to keep checking back at Manufacturing Talk Radio for the latest updates surrounding the manufacturing industry here and abroad.


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