Sourcing fuel and maintenance services (in-house or outsourcing)

Sourcing fuel

The way fuel is purchased for operations will vary widely. In certain contexts, it is widely available through standard commercial services such as filling stations, but in other contexts it is less widely available and is distributed through local traders and networks.


Procurement of fuel

Like any other commodity or service, fuel must be purchased following the applicable procurement, fraud and corruption and counter-terrorism policies. However, due to the importance of fuel to the success of the operation, it usually requires more control than the procurement of other items or services after it is purchased. Both the quantity and the quality of the available fuel must be monitored closely.

Where possible, at least one contract should be in place to ensure the supply of fuel – multiple contracts will mitigate the risk of shortage.

The contract(s) should detail the expected quality of the fuel provided, and supplied fuel should be checked regularly against agreed quality standards (by an independent laboratory if necessary).

Where contracted suppliers cannot supply fuel, alternative options can be explored, in which case the purchase must follow the applicable procurement policy. For example, where a supplier has been contracted but is facing a one-week shortage, the fuel for that week must be purchased through the applicable procurement process, determined by the cost of the estimated total amount required for the week.

Fuel suppliers’ performance must be closely managed, and periodic contract reviews are recommended due to the criticality of fuel availability.


Fuel purchasing cards

In urban contexts, fuel purchasing cards are widely available. These cards are usually connected to an online platform, through which the fleet manager can track consumption.

Fuel cards can be pre- or post-paid, and they allow drivers to refill vehicles without having to request cash. Fuel refills must still be recorded in the logbook, and receipts must be kept for traceability and reconciliation purposes.


Fuel purchase vouchers

Where filling stations cannot provide purchasing cards, the IFRC recommends the use of fuel purchase vouchers.

Each vehicle should have a purchase voucher booklet in which drivers can record fuel purchases. Each voucher must have a unique number, which should be recorded by the fleet manager.

The fuel purchase vouchers must be signed by the driver, the filling station attendant and the fleet manager, with copies kept by all parties.

At the end of the month (or of a pre-defined period), the filling station can issue an invoice against all fuel purchase vouchers in the period. The fleet manager must then reconcile the vouchers against his own records (including the vehicle logbooks).


Fuel deliveries to point of use

In other contexts, fuel may need to be delivered periodically to one or several operating sites.

In this case, the delivery site must ensure that storage facilities are available to safely stock and issue fuel (an isolated, locked storage area only for fuel, equipped with fire extinguishers and sandbags, permanently staffed and with ideally only one staff member issuing and reporting on fuel distribution, and proper fuel issuing equipment).

Having the right refuelling system, with fuel vouchers and proper approval scheme in place under the supervision of the fleet manager, is critical in this context, to ensure consistent consumption control see the Daily checks on vehicles and generators section.

Where fuel is delivered directly from a supplier, they should provide a set of documents including certificate of quality, certificate of origin (especially if fuel is imported) and delivery note.

Fuel should be sampled and tested, ideally on site. Fuel testing does not require sophisticated equipment; a used fuel filter and a tube of Kolor Kut water finding paste are often enough to detect dirty or water-cut fuel. Kolor Kut paste should be smeared on a dipping stick, which is then plunged into the fuel container for two seconds. If the colour of the paste changes, the fuel contains water. Other brands of water-finding paste work in similar ways.

Sourcing maintenance services

Depending on the context of the operation, maintenance services can be provided in different ways. Each presents advantages and risks:

A table shows the advantage and risks of using own capacity and facilities for maintenance services, using another organisation's capacity and facilities and outsourcing to commercial services

Available to download here.

Where maintenance services are outsourced, they should be sourced through the appropriate procurement process. Ideally, a contract or framework agreement should be in place with at least one service provider, detailing a service level agreement and performance management principles.


Vehicle and driver schedules, generator running hours

Vehicle and driver schedules

Office hours drivers must work in accordance with local legislation regarding working hours and length of duty. Drivers should ideally be assigned to a single vehicle, to ensure traceability and accountability of resources.

In locations where no personal or public means of transportation are available, a duty driver system can be implemented to provide transport services outside of working hours, within a designated area. This ensures that delegates have means of transportation outside working hours.

Duty drivers should remain on standby for designated shifts in evenings and at weekends. IFRC recommends:

  • Minimum of four drivers available (each covering a six-hour shift, for 24-hour availability – consider security procedure for evacuation in specific contexts.
  • Minimum of one vehicle available for each duty driver.
  • Means of communication must be available for the duty vehicle/driver (either a VHF handset or mobile phone, depending on local phone coverage).

Duty driver allocation should be based on a rotation system and in line with local labour law.


Generator running hours

Just as logbooks track usage of vehicles, a generator’s running hours must be monitored, to ensure regular maintenance and follow-up regarding consumption.

A generator logbook should be available for each generator in use, tracking the number of hours it is used, maintenance services and refuelling (time, date and litres).

In operations that rely on generators to provide more than 50 per cent of the electricity requirements, it is recommended that the use of generators is alternated either with batteries (which can be charged by the generator when in use) or with spare generators, to limit wear and tear, allow for rest periods and guarantee back-up in case of servicing or breakdown.


Daily checks on vehicles and generators

Daily checks on vehicles

With all vehicles, it is usually the responsibility of the driver to carry out the necessary checks. Ideally, a daily inspection checklist should be available for the driver to fill out, but verbal follow-up or a note on the vehicle logbook can be sufficient in smaller operations.

The minimum daily inspection should be based on the FLOWER technique:

F – Fuel: fuel level must be checked.

L – Lights: all lights to be checked.

O – Oil: check oil level when engine is still cold and vehicle is parked on a flat surface.

W – Water: check the coolant level and top it up with coolant or water if level is low. Do not mix anti-freezes. Check the screen wash reservoir.

E – Electrics: check the battery is safe and secured in its place.

R – Rubber: check tyre pressure (finding the recommended pressure either in the vehicle manual or on the frame of the driver’s door), uneven wear, side wall damage and tread depth (check the tread indicator on the tyres).

A FLOWER diagram is available to download here. A more detailed vehicle inspection checklist is available to view and download here.


Daily inspections on generators

Like vehicles, generators should be inspected daily and any defects should be flagged as early as possible.

View and download a generator inspection checklist here.


Following fuel consumption

Taking stock of fuel

As the volume of fuel fluctuates depending on ambient temperature, the use of metric tons (MT) is recommended as the unit of measure for ordering, receiving and taking stock of fuel (fuel issued can be recorded in litres but quantities should be included in metric tons for stock taking).

To avoid discrepancies, use a calibrated, non-metallic dipstick.

For fuel stock takes, a temperature correction of fuel volume calculation table exists to advise how to adjust the fuel quantity according to temperature.

Where the fuel is managed by the organisation at the operation’s level, fuel stock reconciliation must be made across fuel requests, vehicle logbooks, fuel deliveries and by a physical count. Where fuel is purchased directly from filling stations, no stock take is required, but invoices must be reconciled against logbooks and receipts.


Monitoring fuel consumption

A variety of tools is available to monitor fuel consumption:

  • where fuel cards are in use, reports can be provided by the supplier
  • fuel request vouchers
  • logbooks
  • fleetWave system (where available).

To calculate fuel consumption, use the below formulas:

For vehicles:

Consumption = litres consumed ÷ distance covered (km) x 100 = XXX litres per 100 km

For generators:

Consumption = litres consumed ÷ hours operated = XXX litres per hour

Generally accepted consumption rates can be found here.

UKO-based logistics coordinators or regional fleet managers can support the analysis of variances if needed.


Maintenance planning and tracking

Ensuring the proper maintenance of fleet reduces the risk of accidents, and of damage or loss of goods handled by logistics and delays to the delivery of items.


The importance of preventative maintenance

Preventative maintenance encompasses all actions taken to prevent vehicle failure. Regular maintenance where vehicle and generator parts are lubricated, adjusted, tightened, or otherwise checked will prevent most of the common mechanical failures. Preventative maintenance guarantees staff safety, while also saving time and money.

Benefits of preventative maintenance:

  • Vehicle condition is under control and any misuse is flagged at an early stage, avoiding damage to the vehicle.
  • All deficiencies in the vehicle condition can be corrected at an early stage.
  • Adjustments and repairs can be carried out easily.
  • Time needed for repairs is shorter.
  • Costs of repairs are lower.
  • Need for major repairs is less frequent.
  • There will be fewer unforeseen breakdowns of the vehicle/generator.
  • The equipment’s lifecycle will be lengthened.

Planned maintenance

The fleet delegate or manager must ensure that all vehicles and equipment are maintained and serviced according to instructions in their user manuals.

All vehicles should carry and maintain up-to-date records of maintenance, including a maintenance schedule. Drivers or other users of fleet must inform the fleet manager of planned maintenance on the equipment they are responsible for.

The IFRC fleet management system allows the tracking of maintenance history and planning. Where FleetWave is not in use, this information can be kept in the vehicle file or on a vehicle follow-up spreadsheet.


Service schedule

Below is an indicative table of recommended maintenance milestones. Local regulations may require a stricter maintenance schedule and it is not uncommon for governments to require maintenance records to be kept on file for a number of years.


TypeMaintenance milestones
Light vehiclesEvery 5,000km (10,000km maximum) or 18 months
Heavy goods vehiclesEvery 15,000km or 18 months
MotorcyclesEvery 10,000km or 12 months
Handling equipmentEvery 250 hours
GeneratorsMaintenance (including oil and filter change) every 100 hours

Engine oil should be replaced every 10,000km, depending on the quality of lubricants in use.


Unplanned maintenance

Planned maintenance should ensure that unplanned maintenance is required as rarely as possible. However, where a malfunction is reported by a driver or other vehicle user, usually following usage or a daily check, unplanned maintenance may sometimes be required immediately, leaving the vehicle unavailable for the duration of the service.

Defects or malfunctions should be reported through a maintenance request form, signed off by the requestor, the fleet manager and the budget holder (usually the logistics delegate or programme manager) and logged in the vehicle file or on a follow-up spreadsheet.

Where no logistics staff are available, country representatives/delegates should seek support from HNS/IFRC or UKO logistics coordinators to advise on maintenance requests and cost recharges.


Incident reporting

All incidents involving British red Cross staff must be reported – refer to the British Red Cross incident reporting procedure for further information. 

Where delegates are seconded into another organisation such as the IFRC or the ICRC, or where they are working under another organisation such as a HNS, this organisation’s incident reporting procedure must be followed in parallel to that of the British Red Cross.


Reporting on fleet

Managing and reporting on fleet performance is an important component of operations management. Where it is in use, FleetWave can produce monthly performance reports, but this requires disciplined submission of source data. For more information about using FleetWave, contact the UKO-based logistics team or the global logistics services team in Dubai.

For information on calculating basic fleet performance, see Fleet productivity: utilisation and performance and Monitoring fuel consumption sections.

Other important indicators of fleet performance may include:

  • environmental impact measurement
  • total cost of ownership
  • benchmarking against other fleet options (VRP, rentals, etc.).

The Fleet Forum has developed performance-measuring tools that cover these indicators, among others. The group has also proposed a fleet management reporting format, which supports monthly data collection and analysis.

Fleet performance can be reported as part of the logistics monthly report, or separately where the fleet size is more than 30 vehicles and where a fleet manager oversees a dedicated fleet department or team.


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Vehicle registration process

All vehicles must be registered in their country of operation, in compliance with local law.

Vehicles (and larger generators) must be registered and insured before they can be considered operational. The registration process depends on the circumstances in which the vehicle arrives in the operation:

  • The vehicle is imported new, with no previous registration records.
  • The vehicle comes with export plates from the country of dispatch (which may or may not be the country of origin). Export plates usually have limited validity.
  • The vehicle is still fully registered in the country of dispatch.
  • The vehicle is already deregistered in the country of dispatch.
  • The vehicle is registered in a third country.

Import procedures must usually be completed and the vehicle must be customs cleared before it can be registered. In addition to the customs clearance certificate, the below documents will be required:

  • invoice
  • packing list
  • certificate of origin
  • vehicle gift certificate (if applicable).

Only a partner with legal status in the country of operation can register a vehicle in their name. Therefore, vehicles used in an operation will usually be registered under the name of the IFRC or the HNS, unless collaborating PNSs have legal status in the country of operation.

Note: generators and handling equipment do not usually require registration but this can vary between countries.


Insurance

Only a partner with legal status in country of operation can subscribe to an insurance policy. Therefore, vehicles used in an operation will usually be insured under the name of the IFRC or the HNS, unless collaborating PNS have legal status in the country of operation.

Vehicles rented through the VRP (see the section on the IFRC vehicle rental programme) will be included in the IFRC global insurance policy, but additional insurance policies must be subscribed to locally, as applicable (these are usually third-party, theft and accident).

Refer to the VRP agreement for more details on insurance claims and payable excesses.

A Federation operation may register vehicles for insurance on behalf of a PNS under the following conditions:

  • A fixed asset registration form is submitted and IFRC operation obtains approval from global fleet base.
  • The PNS signs an integration agreement with the operation.
  • The PNS agrees to respect the IFRC’s standard operating procedure, as laid out in the IFRC fleet manual.
  • All PNS drivers are tested and sign the operation’s driving rules and regulations.
  • Only drivers with a valid authorisation issued by the head of the IFRC operation may drive the vehicles.

Note: vehicles owned by a PNS and registered under the IFRC are subsequently covered by all IFRC insurance policies.


Tracking vehicle and generator use

For accountability and safety purposes, the use of fleet in an operation must be monitored. It is recommended that regular training is conducted, with refresher training for fleet users and spot checks on the correct use of logbooks.


Vehicle logbooks

Every vehicle operated by the British Red Cross, including rented vehicles, must have an allocated vehicle logbook to monitor the use of the vehicle, refuelling and maintenance.

Every movement of the vehicle must be captured in the logbook, which is an auditable document.

Every entry in the logbook must be signed by the driver (for refuelling), the passenger (for trips) or the fleet manager (for maintenance services).

Where vehicle costs are charged to specific cost codes or programmes, these must be recorded in the logbook, with the passenger or cargo details.

Note: when cargo is transported, reference must be made in the logbook to the waybill associated with the load transported.


Generator and handling equipment logbooks

The use of generators and other handling equipment such as forklifts must also be monitored and auditable. Running hours must be captured in a logbook. Details to be included in the generator and handling equipment logbook include:

  • every period of usage (running hours) – signed off by the user in charge
  • refuelling – signed off by the person in charge
  • maintenance services – signed off by the fleet manager or mechanic (as applicable).

The generator (or equipment) handbook must be controlled by the logistics lead at regular, pre-agreed intervals. The logistics lead should sign or initial pages after each regular check.

Generators and handling equipment should normally be allocated to a specific cost code or programme. Where that is not the case, details of the recharge must be indicated on the logbook.


Safety and security

General vehicle safety

Fleet procedures and road safety policies are in place to ensure maximum security for drivers, passengers, and vehicles, and must be adhered to.

A text box explains that half of safety and security incidents in humanitarian organisations are related to vehicles

All vehicles must be mechanically sound and roadworthy. Fuel, tyres (including the spare), water, coolant, brake fluid, steering fluid and oil levels must be checked regularly.

Refuelling should be optimised so that a vehicle’s tank is always at least half full.

Depending on context, all vehicles should be equipped with communication equipment, emergency repair materials (spare tyres, jump leads, vehicle jacks), passenger safety equipment (safety belt, drinking water), accident preparedness equipment (first aid kit, fire extinguisher, list of contact numbers). All vehicles must be equipped with Red Cross markings, including emblem and no weapons sign.

As per the Asset maintenance section, inspection and maintenance must be planned, conducted, and documented, in order to ensure that vehicles and generators are safe and efficient.

The driver of a vehicle is responsible for checking the condition of their vehicle and all necessary equipment in the vehicle, while the facilities manager is responsible for checking the condition of generators.

View a list of elements that make up a good driver here.


Using generators safely

Where generators are used as back-up power or a primary power supply system, the below recommendations will ensure safe usage of the units.

Generator sheds (see the example design below) are recommended to limit access to the generator and protect humans and animals. It also ensures that only one person oversees the maintenance of the generator.

A drawing of a generator shed with markings corresponding to the list below
  1. Distance between the top of generator and the ceiling is a minimum of 1.5 metres to ensure good ventilation and access for maintenance. Around one metre is required around the generators and between two generators.
  2. There is a well-secured area with a lockable gate, blocked from weeds growing in but sufficiently open to let gas escape.
  3. There are enough openings in the structure to allow good ventilation, both at the bottom and the top.
  4. There is sufficient space for the storage of oil, funnels etc. Fuel should not be stored in the generator room/shed.
  5. There is an exhaust outside the structure, protected from rain and a straight pipe without sharp angles.
  6. There is firefighting equipment – an ABC-type fire extinguisher and a bucket of sand with a shovel as a minimum.

Generator safety basics:

Set-up

  • Ensure the ground (or preferably the concrete foundation) is strong enough to hold the weight of the generator.
  • Elevate the generator by 10–20cm above the ground to prevent it from flooding.
  • In very hot conditions, generators might overheat. A running schedule should be used to allow the generator to cool down. Do not open the doors of the generators while it is running, as this disables the cooling function.

Usage

  • Do not daisy chain extension cables, as they will melt.
  • Do not overload the generator by connecting too many appliances at the same time. See appliances’ kVa rates table in the Power supply section.
  • Make sure a grounding pin is properly installed to the generator, and that all the cables and appliances have a connection with grounding.

ICRC convoy procedures

When operating in the field, the ICRC and other Movement partners often travel in convoys. Because of the nature of ICRC operations, unarmed and in conflict situations, humanitarian personnel often travel in a group of vehicles, for protection purposes. The head of delegation decides in what situations this is necessary.

The aim of the ICRC Convoy Procedure document is to provide guidelines to staff organising or joining convoys. The list of responsibilities is designed to help conveyors and drivers in the field, before, during and after a convoy. 


British Red Cross driving procedure

The British Red Cross has a Driving in the British Red Cross policy that must be adhered to when driving a British Red Cross vehicle in the UK.

A text box explains that when delegates use vehicles for personal use they must request it via the local fleet management system and record their use

When driving a British Red Cross vehicle outside the UK, the agency with security lead (the IFRC, ICRC or HNS) provides driver regulations. It is the responsibility of every British Red Cross delegate to enquire about applicable driver regulations when joining a Red Cross operation.

Provided that they have passed the driving test and hold an official driving license, delegates may be allowed to use vehicles for personal use. However, rules applying to the personal use of vehicles will vary depending on the context of the operation, and advice should be sought from the IFRC or the HNS.

In some operations, the personal use of fuel will be recharged to delegates.

Note: logbooks must be kept up to date for personal as well as professional use.


IFRC driver rules and regulations

All personnel deployed within the IFRC must read and sign a copy of the operation’s driver rules and regulations form before they are authorised to drive a Federation vehicle.

The form sets out both country-specific rules and standard operating procedure for the use of Federation vehicles. A signed copy of the form will be kept in the staff member’s personnel file.

The default position on IFRC and other Red Cross missions is that delegates are not allowed to drive themselves, unless the country-specific driver rules and regulations allow it. Medical evacuations and security situations are treated as exceptions to that position.

The standard driver rules and regulations form must be adjusted to reflect country-specific conditions. The head of operation for a Federation operation, the head of project for a PNS operation or the secretary general for a National Society operation determines the country-specific rules concerning vehicle use (for example, conditions for and limitations on delegate driving, mission order procedures, country-specific security regulations, etc).

The fleet manager or delegated authority must ensure that all vehicle users are aware of Federation procedures and country-specific rules, as well as local driving regulations and conditions.

All drivers, including delegates, must have a valid driver authorisation form, signed by the head of operation and the fleet manager, before they are permitted to drive a Federation vehicle. The authorisation must specify the types of vehicles permitted and any limitations on their use.

Note: passengers are restricted to National Society personnel (volunteers and staff), IFRC and ICRC staff. Members of UN agencies and other NGOs are permitted as passengers, as long as travel is within the scope of the Movement’s activities. Transporting other passengers or cargo is not allowed, except with previous authorisation from the IFRC country representative or staff in charge of managing local security (for example, programme manager, ops lead, etc).

All drivers, including delegates, must undertake a test of driving ability in their country of station or deployment.


British Red Cross safety training pathway

Refer to the Safety training pathway section in the Warehousing chapter.


Planning for usage

A well-sized fleet should aim for maximum usage, with minimum “idle” time and maximum availability for requests, with minimum service interruption or “down-time”.


Requesting a vehicle and cost recharge

To ensure vehicles are consistently available and sufficient for an operation’s needs, with a minimum number of vehicles underused, a request system that is as simple as possible and as complex as necessary will be helpful.

There are multiple ways in which users can request vehicles:

Vehicle whiteboard – used on a daily basis, listing all available vehicles. Requestors write their name and department on the whiteboard, with trip details (destination, departure time, number of passengers, estimated duration).

Vehicle requests should ideally be recorded at the end of the week for the next week, with an agreed level of flexibility for unforeseen circumstances.

Vehicle request form – submitted to the fleet manager or dispatcher within an agreed timeframe before the vehicle is needed.

Cargo transport request form – for the transportation of goods within an authorised area.

If the transport request is to locations outside of the authorised area, it should be accompanied by a mission order.

These methods are applicable to cases where vehicles are needed for local movements on a single day. Longer trips outside of the operating area or multiple-day trips must typically be approved through a field trip form or mission order, which requires sign-off from line manager, fleet manager and potentially the security manager (depending on context).

Vehicles are usually managed as a pool by the logistics department. Other departments can request to use vehicles, usually on a daily basis, and their usage can be recharged to the requestor through the pool management system.

Vehicles can also be fully allocated to a specific budget, with all costs related to them, including driver, fuel, maintenance and insurance, charged to that budget.

Note: logistics usually has budget to cover fleet maintenance costs, but unusual maintenance services can be charged to requesting departments as applicable.


Fleet productivity: utilisation and performance

In order to review the size of the fleet, monitor usage and report on fleet performance, it is recommended to track productivity in different dimensions.

Fleet performance can be measured looking at:

  • Utilisation – resource used (number of vehicles used over period) divided by the available resource (total number of vehicles available over the period). Expressed as a percentage:

    No. of vehicles used over the period ÷ total no. of vehicles available over the period = fleet utilisation as a percentage.
  • Performance – actual tonnage (or passengers) moved divided by total tonnage (or passenger space) available in a period. Expressed as a percentage:

    Tons transported over the period ÷ total tons available to transport over the period= fleet performance as a percentage.

Vehicles’ performance can be measured looking at:

  • Utilisation – number of days/hours used divided by the total number of days/hours in a period. Expressed as a percentage:

    No. of days or hours vehicles was used over the period ÷ total number of hours or days in the period = vehicle utilisation as a percentage.
  • Performance – number of days available for used/total number of days in a period. Expressed as a percentage:

    No. of days in the period that the vehicle was available ÷ total no. of days in the period = vehicle performance as a percentage.

    Note: where the vehicle’s performance is <80 per cent, the vehicle is not performing well enough and should either be replaced or given a revision.
  • Downtime: days that a given vehicle is not available for operations, due to planned or unplanned maintenance (ideally the split between planned and unplanned should be detailed).

Where no logistics staff are available, country representatives/delegates should seek support from HNS, IFRC or UKO logistics coordinators to compile the fleet performance data.

For more details on reporting for fleet, see the Reporting on fleet section.


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