Logistics Assessment during Emergency

It is important that the humanitarian agencies sustain their capacity to respond in an effective and timely manner when disasters / emergencies occur. Normally, agencies will send their assessment team to go to the disaster sites and it is very important to include logistician to conduct logistics assessment in order to understand how the logistics services are to be provided.

The overall objective of the logistics assessment is to ensure that appropriate and adequate arrangements are made to respond in a timely, effective and appropriate manner to the needs of the affected people.

Log for blog

The strategy of the assessment normally made in order to answer six questions:

  1. Who – who are the beneficiaries or affected people
  2. Where – location of the beneficiaries or affected people
  3. What – identifies most urgent needs or prioritization
  4. When – when the relief items is needed or to be delivered
  5. How many – total quantity of relief items needed or required
  6. How – this is logistics part – how the relief items will deliver / send to the beneficiaries – this will talk about transport, warehouse, handling, packaging as well as communications and other supporting activities.

Based on the above, we could see that the most important part of the logistics assessment during disaster is to identify impact on the transport infrastructure as well as resource infrastructure, e.g. airport, sea port or river port, roads, bridges, local trucking capacity, vehicle rent, warehouses, electricity and other supporting information.

The assessment should also highlight any special concerns, for example airport congestion, customs clearance procedures, labor issues etc.

Logistics assessment during emergency will be depending on the circumstances or depend on the scale of the disaster. Normally, assessment cycle will include:

  1. Identify information needs and sources
  2. Collect data and information
  3. Analyze and interpret data
  4. Conclusion including provide logistics response plan
  5. Design or modify the response
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Supply Chain Sustainability at a Glance

In recent years, almost all major companies are pursuing sustainability initiatives. Pressure from regulators, consumers, employees and shareholders creates more and more companies are starting to implement and improve sustainability on their supply chain accordingly. We may aware that most companies have their own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Division.  Supply Chain Sustainability (SCS) is an important part of CSR which basically to ensure that the companies meet social, environmental and economic requirements and expectations. SCS go beyond the focus on delivery, inventory and traditional views of cost.


So, what is SCS ?

Supply Chain Sustainability is the management of environmental, social and economic impacts, and the encouragement of good governance practices, throughout the lifecycles of goods and services. The objective of the SCS is to create, protect and grow long-term environmental, social and economic value from all stakeholders involve in bringing products and services to market.  (Source: UN Global Impact)

Supply Chain Sustainability is a business issue affecting an organization’s supply chain or logistics network in terms of environmental, risk and waste costs. There is a growing need for integrating environmentally sound choices into supply chain management. (Source: Wikipedia)

Why SCS is important ?

There are various reasons why companies implement a SCS. Primary reason is to ensure compliance of laws and regulations, also to support international principles for sustainable business conduct. In addition to that, by implementing SCS, companies act in their own interests, the interest of their stakeholders and the interest of society at large, companies earned benefits by doing so.  In other word we can say that SCS is no longer an optional nice to have it, but it business imperative, critical to the success of the companies.

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Supply Chain in Humanitarian Relief

In humanitarian organizations, the terms supply chain is basically used to describe the process of getting relief items from the source to the beneficiaries in a timely manner. The source could be suppliers as well as donors. And in some organizations, they used the terms supply chain and logistics both together to describe above mentioned process. Usually logistics also used to describe the function or division who is responsible for managing the process.

Basically, the nature of supply chain and logistics in business or commercial are essentially the same with humanitarian supply chain and logistics, the following are the significant differences:

  • Unpredictable demand in terms of timing, geographic location, type of commodity, quantity of commodity.
  • Short lead time and suddenness of demand for large amounts of a wide variety of products and services.
  • High humanitarian stakes regarding timelines in the face of sophisticated global media and the high anticipatory attention of the donors.
  • Lack of initial resources in terms of supply, human resource, technology, capacity and funding. (Source: Balcik and Beamon, 2008)


SCM2The main components of the humanitarian supply chain are:

  • Procurement
  • Transport
  • Warehousing and inventory



Procurement is a key activity in the supply chain. The procurement involves the sourcing, purchasing and covers all activities from identifying potential suppliers of relief items and services that are needed to meet the needs of the beneficiaries. There are three important principles of humanitarian procurement:

  • Transparency: all phases in the procurement process are fair and accurately documented.
  • Accountability: accountability to donors who may require certain rules to be followed when using the fund/money that they have provided.
  • Efficiency and cost effectiveness: meeting the six rights of supply: right price, right time, right quantity, right quality, delivery to the required places and from the most cost effective source.

The procurement function must guard and mitigate against risk, understand the market, build a trust relationship with suppliers, meet the needs in a timely manner, and constantly monitor performance to improve service provision.


In the humanitarian context, transport can be defined as the physical movement of relief items/goods from suppliers or point of origin to internal customers (in this case mainly is warehouse of humanitarian organization)  or directly to the beneficiaries. The transport component in the supply chain therefore is critical in connecting supply to demand. The aim of transport in humanitarian context is to physically move the relief items/goods in a reliable and safe manner, on time, cost effectively and efficiently to its destination.

Transport mode will depend on several factors including:

  • The type and volume of items/goods to be transported.
  • The urgency that items/goods are required.
  • The availability of different transport routes as well as different types of transport.
  • The destination to which the items/goods to be transported.
  • The cost of transportation.
  • The terrain through which the items/goods need to be transported.

Warehousing and Inventory

The third main component is warehousing and inventory. Recently, some of the experts said that in the perfect supply chain we do not need warehouses in order to reduce costs. In the humanitarian context, clearly there are reasons why items/goods have to be stored and why we need warehouses. In the humanitarian supply chain, there are types of responsibility to manage warehouses, e.g. supplier warehouses, donor warehouses, humanitarian organizations warehouses.

Types of warehouse space:

  • Commercial
  • Government
  • Transit warehouse
  • Bonded warehouses
  • Open storage
  • Pre-fabricated warehouses – non permanent structure

The role of inventory management in humanitarian context is to ensure that stock is available to meet the needs of beneficiaries when required.


In addition to those three main components, there are several subsidiary activities in the humanitarian supply chain, e.g. assessment and planning, fleet management, customs etc.

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How We Plan to Use the Warehouse Space

The main spaces should be planned are the bulk storage area and the areas for goods receipt, consignment picking and goods dispatch. There are also some possibilities to use more space for the several activities such as:

  • Equipment maintenance
  • Parking area
  • An area for garbage disposal, e.g. empty boxes etc. and goods to be sent back/destroyed and goods for quarantine purposes
  • Employee rest area
  • Administrative office
  • Toilet

WH Layout

Planning consideration to be given to the following:

1. Sizing the bulk storage area.  There are three major factors for consideration:

  • The space occupied by the goods and the equipment on which they are stored.
  • The aisles between the goods, for direct access to the goods.
  • Distance from the wall to the goods.

The space for the goods and any storage equipment will be determined by the characteristics of the product and the volume to be stored for all the goods which are not palletized.

For goods which are palletized, the dimensions of the pallet will be the base factor, when goods are stored within perimeter of the pallet. If the goods overlap the pallet, the dimensions will apply to the area occupied by the goods.

The width of the aisle depends on the use of equipment in the bulk storage area and the method of operations which is used, manually or using handling equipment. If handling equipment will be used, the turning circle of the equipment being used to access the goods must be taken into account. The turning circle or aisle width can normally be obtained from the equipment manufacturer.

2. Sizing the goods receipt area. No specific formula that can be applied to planning this area. Type and size of vehicles to be handled will determine whether loading docks will be required and this will have an impact on the size of the receiving area. Space requirement for marshalling, sorting and quality control need to be calculated with reference to the planned number of loads to be handled in any day.

More space might be required for quality inspection or testing of goods, also we have to consider that goods which are still under inspection cannot be stored pending the result before release it to bulk storage.

Equipment needed to handle the goods will be determined by product characteristics and unit load characteristics. The size of the goods receipt area will also be influenced by the working methods. If goods are unloaded and moved straight to storage, a much smaller area will be required rather than if goods are held in the goods receipt area prior to move to storage. Also there is a possibility to use the same space for both unloading and loading. The advantage of this layout is greater flexibility in the use of people and equipment also reduction in the total space required in the warehouse. The disadvantage is the increase risk of congestion if loading and unloading activities should be done at the same time.

3. Sizing the goods dispatch area. No specific formula that can be applied to planning this area. Almost the same with receipt area, type and size of vehicle to be loaded will determine whether docks will be required and this will impact on the size of the dispatch area. Space requirement for marshalling and checking need to be calculated with reference to the planned number of loads to be handled in daily basis.  Product characteristics and unit load characteristics will determine the type of equipment needed to handle the goods. Adequate space needs to be provided to allow this equipment to operate correctly. The size of the dispatch area will also be influenced by the working methods. If goods are picked and moved straight to the vehicle, a much smaller area will be required rather than if goods are held in a pre-marshalling area prior to loading.

4. Sizing the picking / sorting area.  If the goods are to be received must be selected or sorted before storing then the sorting area should be taken into account. If separate picking area is envisaged, the number of items to be picked will determine the size of the pick-face. The picking method to be used must be considered, i.e. high level, low level etc. Also chosen picking path will influence the aisle width that will be needed. If assembly of goods picked using line or zone picking methods is required, this will require a suitable area to be provided. If a kitting/repacking operation is required, extra space should be planned for this activity.

5. The flow of goods and layout.  The main issues to be considered are:

  • The layout of the space for all activities
  • The physical location of the products in the bulk storage area
  • How the products will flow into and out of the warehouse facility

The objective of defining the flow and layout in the warehouse facility is to optimize the efficiency of the flow of goods through the different operations.

The stages in the movement are:

  • The receipt of goods and rotation
  • Storage of goods in the bulk storage area
  • Movement of the goods from the bulk area to the picking area
  • Selection and reassembly of the goods into loads
  • Dispatch goods

Wherever possible the objective to arrange flow of goods and layout is to achieve a smooth continuous movement through the process and to minimize the travel distance from one stage to the next. The level to which this can be achieved will be directly related to the design, size and shape of the warehouse. The two preferred options which best meet the requirements of the objectives stated above are “through-flow” and “u-flow”.

U-flow provides the following features:U-Flow

  • Because the receipt and dispatch areas are side by side, the space can be used flexibly, particularly if these activities are scheduled to take place at different times in the working day. This can save space overall.
  • Similarly, personnel and equipment can be used in a flexibly way, reducing the requirement for resources overall.
  • Because the main access to the building is in one place, access and security are easier to manage.
  • The building may be extended on the three sides where this is required and where the site allows.

Through – flow as follows:

Through Flow

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Command System in the Emergency Response

In the emergency situation, we often hear different information about number of casualties and damage, also uneven aid distribution, lack of cooperation between the various stakeholders and so on.  Situations like this are usually caused by a lack of coordination among stakeholders or related agencies.

Incident Commander

To deal with the above situation, we need a command system to coordinate, control, monitor and evaluate emergency response activities. The command system is also known as the Incident Command System (ICS).

In general, the command system of the emergency response is a disaster emergency management system that is used to synergize and integrate the use of all available resources, human resources, equipment and funds or budget.

Or other definitions from Wikipedia:

The Incident Command System (ICS) is “a systematic tool used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response” according to the United States Federal Highway Administration. A more detailed definition of an ICS according to the United States Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance is “a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations of all types and complexities.

Establishment of command system in the emergency response is usually done at the time of emergencies include:

  1. Emergency standby (preparedness) phase. Establishment of command system at this stage is usually performed for the type of disaster that happens gradually, like a flood or volcanic eruption. At this stage, operations control center is usually located in the region concerned (provincial / district / city).
  2. Emergency response phase. Establishment of command system at this stage is usually performed for the type of disaster that occurs suddenly, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.
  3. Transition phase from emergency response phase to recovery phase.

Establishment of command system for the disaster that occurs suddenly is usually done after going through the following four stages:

1. Information about the initial event of disaster. This information can be obtained from various sources, to create a simple formula:

  • What: type of disaster
  • When: day, date, month, year, hour, local time
  • Where: location/place/disaster area
  • Who: number of casualties and infrastructure damage
  • Why: the cause of the disaster
  • How: what efforts have been made and what urgent needs

2. Assignment of Rapid Response Team. Based on the information about the initial event of disaster, the government or relevant agencies send Rapid Response Team to immediately conduct a quickly and accurate assessment also to provide the necessary support services for emergency response. The results of assessment from Rapid Response Team will be an input and consideration to the Government or related agencies to determine the next steps or to determine the status or level of disaster.

3. Determination status or level of disaster. Based on the input from Rapid Response Team (point 2 above), the government will set a status or level of disaster. At this stage the Government will also sometimes assign an officer as a Commander for Disaster Emergency Response in accordance with state or disaster level (national or regional scale).

4. Establishment of Disaster Emergency Response Command. Government in this regard the President / Governor / Regent / Mayor will issue a decree forming Disaster Emergency Response Command and immediately activate it. Mobilization of all resources is also usually done at this stage.

Emergency Command System is typically a single command organization. The chain of command and responsibilities are clearly. Usually all stakeholders will be coordinated within the organization is based on a unity of command. This organization can be formed at all levels of the region, at the central / national, provincial and district / city.

In general, basic organization structure of the Command System in the Emergency Response:

1. Incident Commander.

2. Deputy Incident Commander.

3. Command Unit:

  • Secretariat
  • Public Relations
  • Safety and Security
  • Liaison Officers from all respective stakeholders

4. General Unit:

  • Planning Section
  • Operations Section
  • Logistics, Equipment Section
  • Finance and Administration

The organizational structure above can be narrowed or expanded based on the needs.

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General Requirement for Choosing a Warehouse

The selection, design and management of warehouse operation depends on the purpose and operation of a company or business. Same as previous article, below are three important things must be taken into account to choose and decide what type of warehouse to be used:

1. Type of goods to be stored as well as the characteristics of the goods.

The main thing to consider is whether to goods to be stored are food or non food items or both. Key characteristics to be considered as follows:

  • Volume of goods to be stored, for example in tonnage or cubic meters.
  • The frequency and size of deliveries to be received at the warehouse.
  • The frequency and size of dispatches to be made from the warehouse.
  • General environment. It is important that the new warehouse environment provides a condition that ensures there is no deterioration in the quality of goods during the storage period.
  • Temperature sensitivity, whether the goods need to be stored in a special temperature.
  • Whether the goods to be stored is hazardous materials.

2. Total quantity will be stored in order to calculate total space / area required.

  • The size and weight of the goods including packaging.
  • Type of packaging.
  • The need of space for other activities, e.g. repacking, labeling, etc.

3. The storage time requirement.


Beside all those three points above, there are also several points to be taken into consideration:

1. Taking into account about Local Legislation. It is the responsibility of warehouse manager to ensure that the operations complies with Local Regulations and Rules such as:

  • Employment regulation.
  • Health and safety rules.
  • Rules for storage of dangerous materials.
  • Rules for storage of drugs.
  • Building regulations, etc.

2. Selecting a suitable location with the considerations of below factors:

  • Choose a location that is close to the port or geographically closer to the factory or stores or based on the requirement. Ideally, we have to choose a location that minimizes the total time that the goods take from the source to their ultimate destinations.
  • Existing building. The construction should be generally sound, no leak, and well ventilated. The inside wall should be cleaned and painted, preferably white. Check for broken windows and doors. Looks for sign of pest infestation, e.g. dropping and holes in the walls and floor. An assessment should be made to check whether the warehouse is suitable based on the requirement. It is better to select a larger space. The floor should be flat and made by a stable material, ideally concrete. The floor must be capable to support the weight of material which will be stored and applicable to the weight of vehicle that might be entered into the building. If we are going to store food, then it is better to have the building disinfected or fumigated prior the arrival of goods. Check the ownership (legal) of the building.
  • Security. This very important factor for warehouse. The security perimeter of the building and warehouse compound/surrounding areas should provide adequate protections for the building, goods and vehicle also equipment in the warehouse compound.
  • Site location and access. Warehouse compound should be free of flooding and access/road to the warehouse should be passed or suitable for large truck.
  • Access to the services such as electricity, water, telephone links and other services required.
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