All the processes detailed in this chapter relate to the management of British Red Cross’ international fleet.

For policies applicable to vehicles in use in the UK, refer to the page on RedRoom dedicated to fleet management by searching for “information about our vehicles” on the Redroom search bar).

The British Red Cross also has a maintenance of British Red Cross vehicles policy that applies to British Red Cross vehicles being driven in the UK.

Read the next chapter on British Red Cross globally pre-positioned stocks here.

Download the full section here.

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.

Read the next section on Fleet disposal options here.

Download the full section here.

Assets require more tracking than regular items (see flowchart of definitions). When an asset is received, some of its details must be captured and periodically updated on an asset register. Maintenance services performed on assets must also be kept on file, in order to monitor the usage of the asset.

When assets are issued, the responsibility to maintain them lies with the person to whom they have been issued. When assets are in storage, they are under the responsibility of the asset manager.

Asset transfers must be recorded on asset transfer forms and the assets’ status must be kept updated on the asset register.

The asset register should be used as an asset report and shared with the project team at an agreed frequency (most commonly monthly), but also with donors when they request it and with the finance team when they require information about the value of assets.

Registering assets

When assets are received, an asset folder must be created and references captured on the asset register, so GRN and PO can easily be traced back.

The asset manager is in charge of tracking the sequence of asset numbers, and of allocating the next available number to the newly received asset following an agreed numbering convention.

Examples of asset numbering conventions:

Name of NS + Country of use + Asset category + Acquisition year + Sequence number

Or more simply:

Name of NS + Sequence number

Note: any numbering convention is acceptable, but it must be used consistently.

The asset number must be captured on the GRN and tagged on the asset as soon as possible.

Make sure that the asset tags used are secure or engrave or paint the asset number on the asset (on generators, vehicles, etc). This becomes the asset’s identification number and must be unique to that asset.

The asset can then be recorded on the asset register, where more details will be listed, such as:

  • asset number
  • category
  • description
  • brand/make
  • model
  • serial number
  • budget codes used to purchase the asset (project code), and donor code (where applicable)
  • date of purchase
  • purchase order reference
  • purchase value
  • current value (provided by finance)
  • GRN reference
  • maintenance plan (where relevant – how often does it need to be serviced?)
  • person responsible (must match the most recent asset transfer form)
  • location (current physical location or point of use)
  • status (for example, OK, damaged, in repair, lost, broken or stolen).

All documents related to a single asset must be kept together in an asset file – this can be a plastic file, for example, with a cover sheet listing the documents on file and the date at which they were added.

Documents related to the maintenance, transfer, receipt, insurance, sale and donation of the asset must be kept in that file.

All asset files should be kept together in an asset management folder.

Note: when an asset is received as a donation from a partner, it must be allocated a new asset number and entered on the asset register as a new asset.

For guidance on asset value, refer to the Determining fair market value section of Asset disposal.

Asset responsiblity

Asset responsibility is allocated through an asset receipt form or asset transfer form (both have the same purpose, but the Red Cross Movement generally uses asset transfer forms). Every time the main user of an asset changes, an asset transfer form must be completed and kept on file, and the asset’s status must be updated on the asset register. When the asset transfer form is complete, the user of the asset assumes responsibility for it and their name must be recorded on the asset register as the current user.

When an asset is not allocated to any specific person, it is the responsibility of the asset manager and must be shown as such on the asset register. It is then the asset manager’s responsibility to ensure the asset is stored safely and securely while not in use and that the necessary maintenance services are performed.

The asset manager should have access to a storage space to hold the unallocated assets, which can be anything from a locked cupboard to a storage room. The assets should be stored by category, with their asset tags or markings easy to read while in storage.

A text box explains that all motor vehicles must be insured in compliance with the country's legal regulations and under the name of a Red Cross partner in the country. Rented or owned buildings must be insured too

Some assets, such as buildings and vehicles, require insurance. Assets must be insured locally unless they are purchased in an organisation that holds global insurance for their assets (always ask your regional logistics coordinator to confirm the status of partners’ asset insurance).

Unless it is a legal or donor requirement, if the insurance cost is higher than the replacement cost (and if this can be shown through quotes), taking out an insurance policy is not mandatory.

Owned buildings, property or land must be captured on the asset register but rented properties may or may not have to be, depending on the duration and financial management of the lease (depreciation can sometimes be applied to long-term rental agreements). Refer to your finance team and/or to the UK-based logistics coordinators to confirm whether a leased building or property should be on the asset register.

Note: some donors may require some categories of assets to be insured. In this case, insurance costs should be covered by the donor requesting the insurance.

Asset checks

Asset checks should be conducted regularly. It is good practice to have five per cent of the asset register, or a minimum of ten assets (whichever is highest) checked against the asset register by finance and logistics staff in each of the country offices on a monthly basis, using the asset spot check form.

All differences must be investigated and reported on the asset spot check form by the staff who conducted the spot check (finance and logistics) and signed:

Locally: by the asset manager’s line manager, programme manager or country manager.

HQ level: by the head of logistics.

The asset spot check form must be signed within a month of being raised, asset checks are required by default, unless otherwise specified in the GAD. The asset spot check form does not need HQ sign-off if it does not identify discrepancies.

A full physical check of all assets must be completed by finance and logistics staff on an annual basis, preferably just before the end of the financial year. All differences must be investigated and reviewed per the same process as for asset spot checks. Following the annual asset check, the asset register must be updated, and the approved investigation report must be attached to the next dissemination of the asset register.

All asset check forms must be kept in the asset management file. The asset manager must keep track of the assets that have been checked during the monthly spot checks to ensure that different assets are checked each month, on a rolling basis.

Following the monthly spot check, the asset register must be updated and the spot check form should be attached to the next dissemination of the asset register.

Reporting on assets

Most donors require regular information about assets purchased with funds they have provided. The details in the asset register should cover all the information they require, but it is good practice to agree beforehand on the information that will be shared.

Whenever new partnerships are designed, it is advisable that the future grant recipient shares their version of an asset register with the donor, to ensure that the level of information is sufficient.

Assets that have not been used for over a year should be reported to senior management by the asset manager, to discuss potentially disposing of them. See the Asset disposal section for more details.

Asset depreciation

The value of assets owned by an organisation sits on its balance sheet. Keeping the balance sheet updated is usually the responsibility of the finance team, but the information required for the process is often shared between logistics and finance. Communication between teams is critical when it comes to recording the right assets at the right value.

In the British Red Cross, see the “Guidance on accounting for fixed assets” (available on Redroom) for information about capitalising assets. Note that in UKO, each team is responsible for their own assets and must maintain an asset register to be shared with the finance team when required (for the end-of-year report for example).

At British Red Cross, assets with a value above £1,000 and with a useful life of more than one year must be capitalised and depreciated. Further details can be found in the policy. Finance should be consulted to understand which assets incur depreciation (not all of them will).

An asset will typically be allocated a life cycle of x years, and its value will decrease by the same amount every year for x years. At the end of x-year life cycle, the asset’s value will be 0. Those 0-value assets still need to be managed as all other assets, and their status must be updated on the asset register.

It is not the responsibility of logistics to apply depreciation to the assets. The asset manager must make sure the depreciated values are computed and shared in due time to report on the total value of assets.

Asset maintenance

Assets that require regular maintenance or inspection services typically include:

  • all fleet, including generators and mechanical handling devices (i.e. forklifts)
  • buildings, whether owned or rented
  • medical equipment
  • IT and comms equipment
  • some household items.

Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance should be incorporated into the usage cycle of assets. For example, it should be reflected in the fleet plan and the drivers’ allocation plan.

A maintenance planner should be used to visualise all completed, ongoing and upcoming maintenance, and covering all the assets that require maintenance. A maintenance planner is included as a tab in the asset register template. It is important to consider legal requirements that apply to categories of assets: for example, an annual vehicle inspection is required in certain countries, with the renewal of the roadworthiness certificate.

See the Fleet chapter for more details on fleet maintenance and maintenance planning.

See the British Red Cross portable appliances technical guide for details of the maintenance procedures to follow regarding British Red Cross-owned electrical assets in the UK. This guide should inform the maintenance planner for the UK logistics team.

See guideline for maintenance of British Red Cross-owned vehicles in the UK.

Note: Most of the maintenance requirements for buildings in the UK will be covered by British Red Cross’ maintenance service provider. To request a maintenance service, contact SSC, so they can schedule it via the facilities management contractor.

Unplanned maintenance

Unplanned maintenance needs must be identified as such and avoided as far as possible. When they do occur, a maintenance request must be authorised by the asset manager, and the associated costs should be recharged to the budget code of the user requesting the maintenance.

Cost of maintenance

The cost of maintenance associated with an asset should be monitored, with copies of invoices for maintenance services included in the individual asset files kept in the asset management folder.

Looking at the cumulative value of maintenance costs associated to a specific asset can support a decision to dispose of an asset, replace it or to switch to renting rather than owning similar items.

For vehicles, generators and some electrical/medical equipment, maintenance should also be captured in the logbook.

Read the next section on Asset donations here.

Download the full section here.

Once the warehouse is selected, sourced, set up and the team has been put together, the warehouse operations can begin.

Warehouse access

All staff members with access to the warehouse (keyholders) must be recorded.

A keyholder list must always be kept and updated: anyone gaining access to the warehouse must sign the key sign-in and -out list (kept in hard copy in the warehouse or logistics office). The warehouse manager is responsible for keeping the list up to date, and the logistics delegate is accountable for ensuring the list is always up to date and available and should therefore review the list periodically.

Warehouse maintenance

Regular inspections must be scheduled.

DailyFloorsPest signs
Sides of racks, shelves, fridges
In-depth check for pest
Stability of racks, shelves
MonthlyComplete deep-clean: floor, storage,
structure, roof, gutter, surroundings
Wall cracks
Water leakages

Available to download here.

A maintenance schedule must be put together and shared, detailing all types of scheduled maintenance and status (equipment, building, facilities etc.). All maintenance undertaken and the matching findings must be recorded and signed off by the warehouse manager.

Pest control

Pests are a major risk for warehouses and can critically damage items in stock.

The most common forms of pest found in storage spaces are:

  • Rodents (rats and mice) – destroy packaging and consume foodstuffs and medicines, also contaminate them.

    Eliminating places in and around the warehouse where rodents can breed is the most effective way to prevent an infestation. Traps, with or without poison, can also be used.
  • Spiders
  • Beetles
  • Other insects: termites attack stock and wooden structures; cockroaches and moths attack grain and flour.

Harbouring pests in the warehouse can jeopardise the integrity of the items in stock as well as damage personnel health. If left unattended, an infestation can result in extensive property and product damage and can even affect the warehouse’s structural integrity.

As a preventive measure, warehouses and stored items should be carefully inspected on a regular basis for signs of infestation (a quick daily check, an in-depth weekly check, an extensive monthly check). Using soapy water or a mixture of water and vinegar (1:1 ratio) for the deep cleans is the best preventive measure against pests.

Incoming and outgoing stock should be inspected as they are loaded or unloaded. Random samples should be taken from newly arrived consignments to ensure the quality of the goods and to prevent infested goods entering the warehouse and contaminating other stock. Alternatively, certificates must be obtained from the manufacturer and transporter to guarantee that the items delivered are free of pests.

View a detailed pest inspection checklist here.

What to do in case of infestation

If infested stock is found, immediately separate and quarantine them from the rest. Consult with local experts in the Red Cross Red Crescent, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, government or university agriculture departments and/or commercial fumigators.

The warehouse manager must promptly report all infestations to the Logistics delegate and/or the logistics coordinator in UKO.

The choice of the optimum pest-control product, dosage and method of application should be left to an expert. Using the wrong product, method or dosage could render the treatment useless or the goods hazardous to human consumption. Only trained pest removal experts should be allowed to decide on the treatment method.

A diagram depicts preventative and curative methods for controlling infestations of insects and rodents. Preventative methods include spraying the warehouse and food items and using traps. Curative methods include fumigation, treatment of warehouse surroundings and traps

*Items may need to be procured internationally – refer to your logistics coordinator.

**Be mindful of local food practices. Rats poisoned in the warehouse may escape and be eaten by local population.

Humidity control

A lot of the items typically stored in humanitarian supply chains (grain, flour, cans of food, drugs, machinery, NFI kits or construction materials) are sensitive to extreme humidity, and a lot of the places where humanitarian supply chains operate have humid climates.

Humidity levels must therefore be tightly controlled in an RCRC-operated warehouse to maintain the quality of the items in stock and avoid losses. It is recommended that hygrometers be fitted in the warehouse and that humidity levels be checked and recorded every day, especially during rainy seasons. Where humidity levels are high, consult with your regional logistics coordinator or technical advisor to agree workable mitigating measures.

Temperature control

All warehouses must be equipped with temperature-recording devices. Ideally, several of them must be placed throughout the warehouse, close to the ground and to the ceiling, and at both ends of the warehouse.

The readings of the temperature trackers should be extracted each month by the warehouse manager, or manual temperature recording forms should be maintained and filed.

Temperature requirements are usually printed on the items’ packaging or available from manufacturers/suppliers directly.

Chilled and frozen goods require special refrigeration equipment and should be handled with care.

Examples of temperature-sensitive goods include medicines and foodstuffs. These goods must be kept within a certain temperature range from the time of their manufacture to the point of their consumption. As an example, many vaccines need to be kept at between zero and eight degrees Celsius. If temperature limits are not respected, vaccines will often lose their efficacy or original expiry dates will no longer be guaranteed. Where cold chain failures occur, details of actions to take to guarantee the safety of the exposed items can be sought from suppliers or manufacturers. Products might become unusable and require disposal and/or destruction.

A supply chain that deals with such temperature-sensitive goods is known as a cold chain. In a cold chain, measurements are taken, and checks are made to confirm that the goods have remained within the specified temperature range throughout the chain. Cold chain failures are a frequent cause of problems in immunisation programmes and other medical programmes.

From a warehouse perspective, the vulnerable parts of the cold chain are:

Unloading and loading operations: often these involve moving goods from one area to another, which poses a challenge to ensure products stay within their allowed temperature range.

Interrupted power supply: to support an active supply chain, constant power is needed. The use of stabilisers and battery switch is highly recommended where an active supply chain must be maintained.

In warehouses where temperature-sensitive items are stored, there must be a clear temperature control procedure with a process in place to ensure temperature are checked and recorded twice per day. All cold chain materials must be checked twice daily – use the temperature recording forms to track temperature in fridges and freezers. One form should be available for each of the fridges in use.

Standard storage temperatures are normally defined as follows:

  • deep freeze: below -15ºC
  • refrigerator: +2ºC to +8ºC
  • cooled: +8ºC to +15ºC
  • room temperature: +15ºC to +25ºC.

To learn more about cold chain management, check out the Logistics Cluster guidance document.

Good storage practices, by item


Detailed information on how to store food can be found here.

Medical supplies

Detailed information on how to store medical supplies can be found here.


Detailed information on how to store NFI (non-food items) can be found here.

Construction materials

Detailed information on how to store construction materials can be found here.

Dangerous goods

Detailed information on how to store dangerous goods can be found here.


Detailed information on how to store chemical products can be found here.


Detailed information on how to store kits can be found here.


You should ensure that your stock and warehouse are covered by insurance.

The stock held in UK (UKO and Bulwick sites) is covered under the British Red Cross insurance policy. The current policy covers the value of stock held at both locations and approximations of the stock’s value are shared with the insurance manager.

The excess for insurance of stock in the UK is £5,000 – any losses or damages under this value are not covered and cannot be claimed through the policy. Replacement for these items must come out of the logistics team budget and be discussed with finance.

For losses or damages over £5,000, the UK insurance manager must be contacted to process the claim. If the level of damage is over £10,000, the insurance company may send an inspector to validate the damage. Reach out to the Logistics team for more details on the insurance procedure.

Once the claim has been processed, the money will be returned to the insurance manager, who will re-code this to the logistics budget. The items’ value should remain on the balance sheet until the money from the insurance claim has been transferred to the balance sheet (see the Financial management of stocks section of Definitions and concepts). Finance will inform logistics when the insurance refund is captured in their account.

For overseas projects, refer to the partner NS insurance policy and make sure stock is covered against theft, flooding, fire, destruction. The warehouse lease contract may also state whether insurance should be purchased by the lessor or the lessee.

Receiving stock

Plan for reception

Request details of incoming goods as early as possible, with the estimated weights and dimensions clearly stated on the documents.

Arrange your reception area to ensure that the full consignment can be temporarily stored before being moved into the bulk storage area – if necessary, make temporary adjustments to the warehouse layout (reduce the dispatching area surface, for example) to accommodate the consignment. Make sure any temporary changes to the layout are communicated to the warehouse team.

If receiving a cold chain consignment, make sure you have a spare fridge in the reception area. If necessary, prepare passive cold chain (isotherm carton boxes or cool boxes fitted with ice-blocks) to use as extra reception area.

When receiving large consignments, it is good practice to draft a reception plan with end users to capture their priorities. The reception plan should detail:

  • the extra capacity needed for offload/check/storage of the incoming goods
  • the re-scheduling of all major consignment preparations to focus on quick reception
  • the order of priority in which items should be checked and placed in the bulk storage area (i.e. available for dispatch).

Where possible, an offloading plan should be made available for the offloading process: have a list of all the boxes for each CTN or order (see the Receiving international stocks from IFRC section below), so that offloading supervisors can tick the boxes one by one as they are offloaded.

Upon reception of the consignment

Check that all documents are attached to the consignment:

  • commercial invoice
  • gift certificate
  • packing list
  • waybill, bill of lading, air waybill or CMR sheet
  • relevant customs clearance certificate (tax waiver documents, for example).

If receiving containers, ensure that the container seals are in good condition (take pictures if possible).

Proceed to offloading (use the offloading plan, if available), checking the condition of each box or pallet as it is offloaded and checking the labels on each packaging unit.

Confirm that the number of boxes offloaded matches the consignment documentation (purchase order and packing list in particular). If they match and no damaged boxes are found, sign the waybill/delivery note provided by the transporter.

A diagram lists the process on receiving a consignment

Available to download here.

If receiving a cold chain consignment, read the temperature-monitoring devices attached to the consignment to confirm cold chain has been maintained throughout the transport process. Where an anomaly appears on the readings, record it on a claim form and have it signed by the transporter. Include reference to the claim form on the waybill and share the claim form and temperature readings with the delegation’s pharmacists or medical staff to confirm that drugs are fit for use.

Check and inspect the contents of each box to confirm the exact quantities received against the packing list attached to the consignment. Record any discrepancy and reconcile once all boxes have been inspected (sometimes all ordered goods are in the consignment, but the packing lists does not match the physical packaging).

For more details on documenting procedure for the reception and despatch of goods, refer to the Transport chapter.

Document the reception

Raise a GRN to confirm the exact quantities received. The GRN must be raised in one original and three copies.

An image shows the different types of Goods Received Notes - the white original and blue, green and yellow copies. The white is for the supplier and/or donor, blue for the transporter, green for filing in Logistics' files and yellow for filing in the warehouse

When the GRN is raised electronically, it is good practice to inform all stakeholders and keep soft copies on file or in archives.

Raise a claim in case there are any discrepancies against the shipping documents, in quantities or in quality (see the Upon reception of the consignment section above.)

Record all incoming quantities on the appropriate stock cards, referring to the GRN number.

Record all incoming quantities on the stock cards, referring to the GRN number.

Make sure the stock levels are updated as per the applicable stock tracking method:

  • If using an electronic system, stock levels should be updated automatically when posting a GRN.
  • If manually updating the stock levels, make sure the updates are captured on the stock cards and in the upcoming reporting cycle.

Keep a copy of the signed waybill on file, including copies of any claims raised and enter them on a claim tracker for follow-up. Provide a copy of the waybill and GRN to the procurement lead to add to the procurement file.

Some consignments will require inspection by a third party (this would have been agreed at the time the order was placed). In this case, a company must be selected to observe the reception process, sample the items received as per the agreed sampling method and take the samples away for analysis. Typically, items that require third-party inspection would not be available for distribution until the inspection results are available. Samples taken for inspection should be recorded as sampled quantities – this quantity should be withdrawn from the GRN and should not be included in the quantities recorded in stock.

Receiving stock for the British Red Cross (in UK or at RLUs)

With Agresso

Where items are received into stock through an Agresso purchase, the physical GRN must be raised in the usual way and received quantities must be updated in Agresso. To do so, the receiver must open the Agresso PO and enter the received quantities in the “quantity received” column. Where deliveries are incomplete, the Agresso PO should be closed after the received quantities are consigned against the PO quantities.

This applies to all stock purchased through Agresso, including RLU pre-positioned stocks (see the RLU stocks management section for more details on RLU stocks).

Receiving international stocks from IFRC (pipeline report and CTN)

The pipeline report

The pipeline report indicates the type and quantity of goods in the pipeline for internationally sourced supplies for a given operation, as well as their point of origin and expected/actual date of arrival.

The pipeline report allows logistics delegates in the field to pre-arrange warehouse space, custom clearances and transport. Depending on space availability and need, goods may be taken from border posts and airport and port facilities to a central warehouse or directly to distribution-point warehouses. The pipeline report indicates all the consignments (i.e., past, ongoing and future shipments) and CTN allocated to that operation.

Regular updates of the pipeline report should be shared with the IFRC’s regional logistics unit leading the operation, National Society staff, donors, operational partners and whomever else the logistics coordinator deems relevant to the success of the operation.

The pipeline report serves various functions:

  • Distribution managers can use it to pre-plan distributions according to incoming items from donors and international procurements.
  • Other operational agencies, as well as customs clearance agencies, can be in copy of the pipeline report.

    They can assist in establishing a global overview of relief items for the operation and to facilitate inter-agency coordination and the preparation of reception/clearing plans.

View and download a pipeline report here.

The regional logistics unit (RLU) has ultimate responsibility for updating all aspects of the pipeline report – both headquarters’ information (new donor commitments, consignment departures, etc) and field-based information (arrivals, losses, etc). The RLU shares all relevant pipeline information with the field daily, and even more frequently at the beginning of an operation.

Pipeline reports are automatically generated by the mobilisation software programme. The RLU is responsible for all data entry into the software programme, hence, for updating the pipeline report. The field-based logistics delegate is responsible for confirming and reporting to the RLU on the state of all consignments immediately following their arrival. The delegate must also share a copy of the GRN to the RLU so that it can be sent to the appropriate donors and/or suppliers.

The CTN Commodity Tracking Numbers

  • Each IFRC shipment is assigned a unique consignment tracking number by the IFRC’s logistics department, called CTN.
  • A consignment refers to a shipment that is handled by a common carrier. This shipment may contain only one type of goods or a combination, each with their own CTN.
  • Large donations with the same CTN may need to be sent in several shipments and will thus have multiple consignment numbers.
  • The consignment number and the CTN are key elements in the tracking process – they must both be recorded on the GRN so it can be matched to the goods in the pipeline report and a report sent to the appropriate donor.
  • Unsolicited goods donations will also appear on the pipeline report, however they will not be allocated a CTN.

The CTN is assigned to each donated or procured commodity. It is also the primary tracking information used to identify the source (donor) of the goods for accurate reporting and must appear on all documents. Shipping, clearing and forwarding documents should be filed by CTN reference for ease of traceability.

The RLU allocates a CTN at the time of donation or procurement. Prior to procurement of any relief item (such as non-food, food, water and sanitation or health supplies) for delivery in the field, a CTN must be requested from the RLU.

It is extremely important to mark this tracking number on each document and, where possible, on each package. The RLU must be contacted in case of missing CTN or, in the unlikely event that none was pre-assigned, to acquire one.

The CTN is not the item code. An item code is the number assigned to each item listed in the standard product catalogue which is published by the IFRC (available online). The item code allows easy reference of items in the catalogue, which describes the standard specifications of individual relief items.

A diagram shows when the Commodity Tracking Number or CTN is needed, at airport customs' clearance, when using local transport and when showing the waybill at the warehouse

Dispatching stocks

See the Planning, tracking and reporting on transport section of the Transport chapter.

Relocating stocks to a new warehouse

Some programmatic or contextual changes (insecurity, lease conditions, etc) may require moving stocks to a new facility. This is a resource-intensive process and should be planned well in advance, to ensure that the programme’s staff (including support functions) are aware of the timings, implications and resource requirements involved.

Transporting the entirety of an operation’s stock requires careful planning. If the exact weight and volume of the stock is known, it will be relatively easy to calculate truck requirements for the move. If such data is not available, the most practical way to prepare for the move is to mark areas on the floor of the warehouse, their dimensions corresponding to the trucks available for the move, and transfer the stock into these markings, stacking it to the maximum height of the truck, while incrementally dismantling the storage units, and recording all items moved into each of the marked out areas.

Ensure that all items in the warehouse are included in the volume calculations. This includes stock, storage systems, office materials, equipment and machinery, spare materials, generators, etc.

Cold chain stocks must be transferred to passive cold chain containers (cool boxes with ice packs) for the duration of the move. It is preferable to use air transportation for cold chain items if the move is long-distance (more than 12 hours by road).

Documenting the contents of each truck (packing lists and waybills) and scheduling the trucks’ trips to the new warehouse is essential.

Ensure that the stocks needed for distribution most urgently are moved into the new warehouse first and pace the arrivals of the trucks to leave time to place each shipment into storage before the next one arrives.

Ensure that restricted goods are transported in locked containers as far as possible, that dangerous goods are transported separately and that quarantined stock, if it must be transported, is transported separately.

Note: where stocks are being moved to a distant location, ensure that the trucks used (whether hired or owned) can stay overnight at secure locations and have all the necessary road permits to enable them to transit without delays or obstacles.

The rules and guidance points listed in the Good storage practices section above apply to storage in transit.

Relocating to a temporary warehouse

Rubb Hall

The Rubb Hall takes about two days and a team of 12 people to dismantle (and the same to re-erect it in its new location). Ensure that you follow the instructions closely when dismantling the tent. This means that the transfers need to be well-scheduled, taking into consideration the dismantling time, the transit time and the re-erecting time.

The items stored in the Rubb Hall will likely have to be temporarily stored in a different facility (probably another Rubb Hall erected nearby) for at least a week.


Never move a repurposed container without first emptying it of its stock. As the container is repurposed into a temporary storage unit, some ventilation holes will have been made in its structure; ensure that it is protected while it is in transit to its new location.

Relocating a permanent warehouse

See guidance points in the Relocating stocks to a new warehouse section above.

Ensure the new warehouse is inspected while empty, well in advance of the move (a minimum of two weeks) and arrange for any identified need to be addressed before the move (wall fixtures, pest control, ventilation, etc).

The new warehouse must be mapped before the first stocks arrive at its location, so that briefed staff can easily move the goods into storage. Ensure storage systems (shelves, racks, etc) are installed before the first stock is delivered, and that water and electricity supply is arranged in advance.

Stock records

Once goods are in stock, the field logistics officer and the warehouse manager must ensure that the stock is maintained in good condition and accurately tracked until items are dispatched. Stock should be kept at manageable levels to permit frequent rotation to avoid the build-up of unused stock and losses due to spoilage and overdue expiry dates.

A diagram illustrates what First In, First Out and First Expired, First Out mean. First In, First Out is to be used by default and means supplies leave the warehouse in the order they arrived. First Expired, First Out means supplies leave the warehouse in order of expiry date and is to be used for items with expiry dates only

Apply the First In, First Out rule; all supplies should, in principle, leave the warehouse in the same order in which they arrived. The exception is the First Expired, First Out rule; items with expiry dates must be distributed according to their expiry date. Additionally, damaged, infested or damp goods that are still fit for human consumption must be distributed before older stocks and without delay, to avoid further loss.

All supplies stored in the warehouse must be registered on stock cards and bin cards. These cards are the primary tracking tools used in a warehouse – they follow the commodities from the time they enter the warehouse to the time they are dispatched.

Though similar, the two forms have separate functions and should not be confused. Templates for the cards can be found in the appendices, and both are discussed below. Ideally, both stock cards and bin cards should be used, especially where few items are in store and where they are in large quantities and under different CTNs.

Bin cards

A bin card must be physically attached to each grouping (a stack, pile or grouping on a shelf) of an item in a warehouse. It provides basic information about the goods:

  • item type
  • CTN (where applicable)
  • batch number (where applicable)
  • quantity
  • origin
  • arrival date
  • expiry date
  • any re-conditioning it has undergone.

Separate cards must be issued for each stack, as well as for goods with different CTNs, batch numbers or expiry dates. A grouping of one commodity (a stack) can be increased on the same bin card, as long as the goods are placed in the same stack and have the same CTN, expiry date and batch number (where applicable).

Where any of these three do not correspond, a new stack must be started, even where the commodity is the same. Every time an item with the same CTN, batch number and expiry date is received, either under a GRN or a transfer waybill, and is added to a pre-existing stack, the quantity is recorded in the “IN” column on the bin card. The “OUT” column is used every time part of the stack is dispatched under a waybill or losses have occurred and a claim report has been filed.

The bin card is closed and removed from the storeroom when the entire stack has been dispatched, transferred or accounted for under a claim report. The old card must be filed, sorted by item code and date.

Stock cards

All commodities received or dispatched from the warehouse should be immediately registered on a stock card by the warehouse manager. These entries should correspond to a GRN, waybill or, in the event of loss, a claim report.

Every entry should bear the signature of the warehouse manager or, in the case of larger operations, a designated assistant. A stock card is less detailed than a bin card and includes stock with different expiries or batch numbers.

Stock cards can also be raised by batch number or by CTN where no bin cards are in use. It is a summary of all bin cards for goods with the same CTN and indicates the overall stock level for an item. The “IN” and “OUT” columns are completed in the same way as on the bin cards.

The warehouse manager is responsible for keeping the stock cards in a safe location in the warehouse office space and must ensure that they are filed properly (in alphabetical order, by catalogue codes or by area of the warehouse, for example) and that all stock cards that have been filled out are numbered and archived properly.

The summary of all stock cards is the stock report or stock movement report, which is used for daily, weekly or monthly reporting and for stock management.

Stock management and reporting options

Besides using the mandatory bin and stock cards, total stock levels can be monitored using different systems, with varying levels of automation and sophistication.

Manual stock board

This can be useful in small operations, with a limited number of items in stock and a limited number of end users. A stock board is a visual way of informing requestors of current stock levels in the warehouse and must be updated every time there is a stock movement. This system should be used only in cases where no other options are available or sustainable, and for as short a period as possible.

An image of a British Red Cross manual stock board

Excel spreadsheet stock report and analysis

Excel stock reports are useful where stocks are held at multiple locations as spreadsheets can easily be compounded to obtain a general stock overview. The frequency of update and sharing of the spreadsheets must be pre-agreed, so that the information reflects stock levels at the same point in time.

Offline databases

There are several ways to maintain local databases containing the stock information. These are maintained offline (they do not require an internet connection) and can be exchanged between locations to calculate compounded stock levels. Reports can also be extracted from these databases and shared with stock owners in Excel format. The general trend in the humanitarian world is to use this type of solution less often, as Internet connections become more widely available.

Online databases

The use of software solutions, either in a “ready-to-use” version or specifically developed for a specific user, is becoming more common.

Orders can be placed through the system, and stock levels are automatically updated from other transactions approved in the system: for example, raising a GRN against an approved PO will result in an increase in stock levels, recorded against the GRN reference generated by the system, and approving a stock movement in the system will generate a waybill and reduce the stock levels.

These solutions are a considerable investment and should be developed in common across the Movement where possible, to share the costs of development and ensure consistency.

Refer to the latest version of the stock management strategy published by the IFRC for more information about the development of stock management systems.

LogIC (logistics inventory control)

LogIC is currently the system that is most widely used across the Movement, particularly in IFRC-led operations, but the IFRC and ICRC are currently looking to develop a more holistic joint stock-tracking tool. Each National Society can choose the system they use to track stock.

LogIC training is available upon request – reach out to the UK team to enquire about training options.

Warehouse performance management

The warehouse manager is responsible for overall reporting and KPI monitoring, under the supervision of the Logistics delegate. KPIs monitored include:

utilisation (%)
What part of the available
storage space is actually
Warehouse map
Stock volume information
If < 70% warehouse
is being under-utilised
Stock accuracy (%)What part of the stock is
accounted for correctly after
stock takes?
Stock take report100%
Order preparation
lead time (days)
Number of days from
approved request to
dispatch of items
To be agreed locally
lead time (hours)
Number of hours to load or
offload consignments
Visitors' bookTo be agreed locally
Claims against
deliveries (units)
How many claims have
been raised on shipments
dispatched from the warehouse?
Claims forms
To be agreed locally

Available to download here.

Read the next section on ERU stock management here.

Download the full section here.