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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A diagram shows the process of defining fleet needs from evaluation to strategy definition to operations

Available to download here.

Note: operational constraints include security context and regulations that may apply (import options, labour law, etc).


Vehicles

The number and type of vehicles should always be aligned to the operational needs and conditions, including security, terrain, and team movement patterns. Operational fleet decisions must be compliant with IFRC safety and security guidelines (as stated in the IFRC Fleet Manual), with any deviation requiring approval from UKO.

The vehicles selected must comply with IFRC standards, unless approval for the use of non-standard vehicles has been obtained from UKO.

When selecting vehicles, consideration should be given to the following factors:

  • local terrain and topography
  • state of road and traffic infrastructure
  • need for specific equipment, such as in-vehicle communications equipment, a tow-bar or winching equipment, or use of the vehicle as ambulance
  • import and export regulations
  • local driver capacity (automatic or manual driving, 4×4 driving, left or right-hand drive)
  • distance to be travelled and estimated usage (frequency, payload, etc)
  • compatibility with existing fleet composition
  • local and national service/maintenance and the availability of spare parts
  • local rules and regulations, including emission regulations (not all IFRC-standard vehicles meet current emission levels for all countries)
  • climate, including seasonal change.

The IFRC standard products catalogue contains full technical specifications of Federation-standard vehicles.

The key point for organising fleet is knowing what the needs are for the programmes in the country office (including any sub-delegations) and for general operations. It is the role of logistics to analyse these needs and then optimise the fleet. This, combined with the national regulations (i.e. load limits for trucks) and the limitations of the surrounding area (i.e. infrastructure) will provide the necessary information to choose the most effective set-up of fleet.

Defining the number and type of vehicles depends on the volume of the workload and the material or number of passengers to be transported, as well as the distance and terrain covered.

The below table will help define the type of equipment needed in operations. To help calculate the number required of each type of vehicle, see Annex 9.1, vehicle set-up evaluation in the ICRC fleet management manual.


ConsiderCriteriaDecisions
Type of terrainTown/country/topography
Paved/dirt roads
Seasonality
Warehouse
Construction site
Cars, high-range 4x4, low-range
4x4, engine power
Specifications of vehicles
Tyres, sand plates, motorbikes, etc.
Forklift
Digger
Transport capacity
Bridge and road weight restrictions
Local/international distribution
Transport of passengers/cargo
Light trucks
Trucks
Bus
Radius of operation
Vehicle fuel capacity and reliability
Number and type of vehicles
Typical and exceptional journey durations
Fuel quality and quantity in area of operation
Refuelling options, linked to typical
and exceptional journeys (mileage
and duration)
Fuel sourcing strategy
Storage on site
Availability of electricityPower for all operations
Security
Generators vs city power

Each department has its own needs in terms of type and number of vehicles to add to the fleet list. For example:

  • Administration may require cars for errands or official visits.
  • Programme teams may need light 4×4 vehicles for field visits and transfers.
  • Construction and warehousing teams may need pick-ups for equipment.
  • Teams in charge of distribution (usually called relief team) will need trucks.

Combining and analysing these needs into a summary table will help constitute the fleet (in number and type), in a way that meets the needs of each team and minimises the cost of operation. The vehicle pool system (see the Requesting a vehicle and cost recharge section of Vehicle usage) should be considered, as it maximises vehicle utilisation through avoiding the taking of vehicles without justification.


 Team 1Team 2Team 3Team 4Team 5Total
Vehicle type 1
Vehicle type 2
Vehicle type 3
Vehicle type 4
Total

Available to download here.


Power supply

Generators must be set up and maintained by qualified staff – a mechanic or a head driver. Support is always available from locally available staff from other PNS, IFRC or ICRC or from UKO-based logisticians.

Note: specialist skills are required to manage generators. Staff involved in plant management processes must be trained electricians or experienced logisticians.

The output of a generator is measured in KvA (kilovolt-ampere) and volts. They can be air or water-cooled and can be soundproofed (silent) or not. Generators are either petrol or diesel-powered.

The British Red Cross uses hybrid generators when deploying their logistics or MSM Emergency Response Unit teams (see the ERUs chapter for more details on the ERUs). These provide standard power generation and simultaneously charge a set of batteries, which can be used to provide power once the generator is turned off. The batteries’ power demand must therefore be included in the load calculations. Details of the generator specifications as well as a user manual are available from the international logistics team upon request and provided to the ERU teams when they deploy.

 It is important to match the power generated to your electrical needs as closely as possible: if the load is too high, the generator will stop and be damaged. But when the generator is supplying less than 40–50 per cent of its power capacity, fuel consumption increases, the lubricant deteriorates more quickly, and the engine’s life cycle is reduced.

Without any power demand to it, a generator will typically already be using 25-30 per cent of its rated power.


 ScenarioImpact on generator set
 A Power demand is less than 40–50%
of the maximum rated power
Fuel consumption increases
Generator life cycle is reduced
Lubricant deteriorates more quickly
 B Power demand is between 60–80%
of maximum rated power
Optimal use of the generator
 C Power demand is more than 80%
of the maximum rated power
Fuel consumption increases (but less than in Scenario A)
 D Power demand is more than 100%
of the maximum rated power
Generator stops
Generator life cycle is reduced

Available to download here.

It is a good idea to have batteries as part of an electricity provision setup, so that they can be charged while the generator is turned on. Critical appliances (communication systems, fridges, alarm and/or security systems) can then work in case neither city power nor the generator can supply power. If the generator is used to charge batteries, make sure their rated kVA is calculated into the total power requirements.

A text box explains that solar power is only considered a back-up to supplement generators and battery banks. It cannot be relied upon completely

To calculate your power supply needs and to choose the right generator, use the power calculator table. The generator size (in kVA) must be equal to or greater than the total consumption of all appliances. The higher starting requirement must be considered when calculating the generator size.


ConsiderCriteriaDecisions
Electrical loadTotal load calculations
Power (kVA)
Local voltage and frequency
Reduce requirements?
Alternate generators? (consider whether
budget can cover duplicate setup)
Expected usagePermanent/back-up system
Consider requirement for UPS by way of
back-up
Starting system (manual/electric/automatic)
Alternate generators if constant power
supply needed
Establish running hours with regular
breaks (consider if budget can cover
duplicate setup)
Make, brand, place
of manufacture
Local availability and quality of relevant
fuel and parts
Local maintenance capacity
Budget for fuel and spare parts
Geographical area
of use
Altitude
Temperature and weather conditions
Exhaust emission regulations
Cooling system (air/water)
Improve electrical safety at location
Isolate generator appropriately (consider
budget availability)
Place of useIndoors/outdoors
Ventilation
Protection from elements
Noise and disruption
Type (portable/fixed/on trailer)
Safety
Budget for generator shelter or
noise reduction system
Require inspection of terrain
Security requirements
How to earth it effectively?
PriceBudget, set-up costs, maintenance costsWithin budget/out of budget

Available to download here.


Fleet options and modalities

The RCRC’s aim regarding fleet management is to standardise fleet as much as possible, allowing for easier tracking, resource-sharing, and maintenance management. It also allows different parts of the Movement to benefit from competitive pricing from manufacturers.

Vehicles outside the list of standard fleet should only be purchased after approval from a centralised fleet management team (usually HQ logistics, IFRC or ICRC).

The IFRC standard products catalogue and VRP include the list of standard vehicles.

Fleet to be used in field operations should always be procured centrally and through the existing agreements with manufacturers.

Where fleet is being procured locally and only for city use, the following criteria should be adhered to as much as possible:

  • Make – well-known European or Japanese make, well represented in country of operation.
  • Category – city car (Peugeot 208, Toyota Corolla or equivalent), not necessarily a station wagon.
  • Engine power – maximum 100 hp or 75 kw.
  • On-board security – Alarm/immobiliser, antilock braking system (ABS), electronics stability control and air bag if available.
  • Fuel – diesel or petrol (check regulations, availability and consider the environmental impact).
  • Pollution control – optimum, but at least as per local regulation.
  • Transmission – two-wheel drive, preferably automatic – unless road conditions in the city require four-wheel drive.
  • Colour – preferably white, and a light colour if not available – should not clash with Movement visibility.
  • Budget – equivalent to the cost of standard vehicles.
  • Maintenance – access to local maintenance without HQ support.

Standardisation and compliance to environmental regulations should also be applied to the choice of generators. In general, ensure that the brand is well-established, that fuel type matches local fuel availability and that spare parts and maintenance are widely available.


Different types of fleet sourcing solutions

British Red Cross own fleet

In this option, the British Red Cross purchases the vehicles and uses them for its operations.

The decision of what vehicles and how many to buy will be based on operational needs and the procurement must be controlled and managed through UKO. Such vehicles would be purchased and imported under the HNS and the British Red Cross would donate the vehicles to them once the British Red Cross-supported programme ends.

This option would usually only be considered when:

  • it represents better value for money than other options, such as using the IFRC’s VRP system
  • vehicles are required for more than two years
  • there is assurance that the donation does not place an unnecessary burden on the HNS in terms of maintenance and cost.

In these cases, the British Red Cross usually covers all the costs associated with the vehicles, including maintenance, drivers’ charges including per diems, local insurance, registration and fuel.

The maintenance of British Red Cross-purchased vehicles outside the UK is done following the IFRC maintenance guidelines, unless it is agreed that the vehicle is managed under the HNS‘ fleet management procedures.


Commercial rentals

Renting vehicles or outsourcing their maintenance can be a requirement for an operation either temporarily (during a short-term surge in activity) or as a long-term solution (where ownership is not an option).

If renting vehicles, the applicable procurement procedure should be followed. The selected rental company must be reputable and offer value for money. See the Sourcing for procurement section for more details.


IFRC vehicle rental programme

For step-by-step guidance on sourcing vehicles through the VRP, refer to the VRP service request management/business process document.


The vehicle rental programme

The International Federation’s vehicle rental programme (VRP) was established in 1997 to ensure a cost-effective use of vehicles and fleet resources. Revised in 2004, it continues to be an effective means of providing vehicles to International Federation and National Society operations. The programme is run as a not-for-profit service within the International Federation; monthly vehicle rental charges are calculated to cover the vehicles and the operating costs of the VRP.

Depending on the estimated period of vehicles’ requirement, it may be cheaper or more straightforward to rent them through the VRP, but a full cost comparison should be done before a decision is made. Cost comparison must cover the cost of the vehicle, shipping, registration, insurance and local insurance, maintenance and PSR of 6.5 per cent.

The overall aim of the VRP is to provide good-quality vehicles as quickly as possible, and with maximum bulk discount. It also enhances standardisation, centralises control and minimises costs, through end-of-lease sale. Vehicles on this programme are managed through the fleet base in Dubai and remain the property of the IFRC. All leases must be organised through the IFRC.

The vehicle rental programme is managed through the global fleet base in Dubai, but a lot of the fleet management team’s responsibilities are delegated regionally and implemented through regional fleet coordinators in the Operational Logistics procurement and supply chain management units (OLPSCM, also known as Regional Logistics Units).

Note: monthly VRP invoices are processed through UKO.

The VRP agreement is materialised through a vehicle request form, which must be signed off by the British Red Cross country manager and submitted to the global logistics service (GLS) team in Dubai.


Global fleet base vs regional units: roles and responsibilities

VRP system – roles and responsibilities are as follows:

Global fleet unit (Dubai)

  • overall VRP management (operational and financial)
  • maintaining the VRP business plan
  • procurement hub for vehicles and vehicle-related items
  • managing all incoming requests for dispatch and allocation of new and used vehicles
  • supporting disposal of VRP vehicles
  • preparing vehicles for deployment (technical assessment and repairs).

Regional fleet coordinators (in OLPSCMs)

  • implementation and maintenance of IFRC standards at a regional level
  • advise on the implementation of preventative maintenance and repairs to maximise lifespan and usage of regional fleet
  • coordinate movement of fleet across the region
  • supporting planning of transportation needs in the region
  • implementing standard asset disposal procedures
  • ensuring proper maintenance of fleet wave database and analysing data
  • reporting on regional fleet usage to global fleet base
  • maintaining regional fleet files
  • advise and train on fleet sizing, fleet management and VRP
  • managing regional IFRC fleet.

VRP rental costs

To encourage forward planning, cost incentives have been built into the VRP. Rental rates are based on a sliding scale, in which longer rentals benefit from cost savings (i.e. a sliding scale, based on the duration of the contract).


ModelFive-year average
monthly cost (CHF)
12-month average
monthly cost (CHF)
Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ78720830
Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up double cabin HZJ79671775
Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up single cabin HZJ79650750
Toyota Land Cruiser SWB HZJ76736850
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado LJ150696800
Toyota Corolla ZZE142635TBC
Toyota Hiace minibus LH202621715
Nissan Navara pick-up double cabin546630

Available to download here.

These rates are indicative and may change – quotes can be requested from the global fleet team when considering renting vehicles through the VRP. The latest version of the rate sheet is available here.

An additional 6.5 per cent programme support recovery cost must be added to the total cost of the contract with the VRP, as well as delivery and return shipping costs (including any applicable import duties).


VRP system – cost structure

Included in VRP rental rate

  • global third-party liability insurance cover (up to CHF 10 million)
  • full vehicle damage insurance (including a replacement vehicle)
  • vehicle replaced at the end of its lifetime
  • fleet management support
  • accident insurance for driver and passengers
  • specialist driver training (depending on context and availability of funding)
  • access to a web-based fleet management system.

Not included in VRP rental rate

  • telecom equipment ordered by the operation
  • additional equipment: snow chains, spare part kits, roof rack
  • all charges linked to the delivery of a vehicle: shipping, in-county transport, customs duties, taxes for import, port and warehouse charges, etc
  • all in-country charges: registration, vehicle insurance, local third-party liability insurance, etc
  • all operating costs, including fuel, maintenance and repairs
  • all charges linked to the return of the vehicle to a VRP stock centre or secondary destination (as requested by global fleet base): customs duties and taxes for re-export, cost to deregister the vehicle in-country, transportation, port and warehouse charges, etc.
  • any costs for additional repairs resulting from the loss of or improper documentation relating to a vehicle’s maintenance history
  • any costs for additional repairs at the end of the rental period, for damage considered beyond the normal wear and tear.

Using another National Society’s vehicles

Most National Societies (NS) use a mileage rate that they charge for the use of their vehicles by Partner National Societies (PNS). Alternatively, they may charge a monthly fee or let PNS use their vehicles and only charge them the cost of fuel.

Mileage rates and what they include often differ, and it is recommended to clarify what is covered (fuel, driver costs, maintenance, etc), and how the amounts to be recharged will be calculated.


Choosing the best vehicle ownership solution

British Red Cross owned vehicles

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Vehicles belong to British Red Cross.
  • At the end of a project, these can be disposed and realise residual value.
  • British Red Cross is free to donate these vehicles to any partner of choice after the end of a project or five years.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • British Red Cross must source the vehicles and ship to operation where required.
  • Some governments force international organisations to donate vehicles to their governments at the end of a project.
  • Vehicle must be managed as an asset (including depreciation).
  • British Red Cross must spend large sum to buy the vehicles outright.
  • If mission is cancelled or discontinued at short notice, British Red Cross is stuck with these vehicles.
  • It is difficult to increase/reduce fleet size at short notice, but surge option plans can be built in.
  • Donor constraints on expenditure.

IFRC’s vehicle rental programme

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Monthly vehicles rental cost is known, so easy for budgeting purposes.
  • Access to standard IFRC vehicles.
  • There is good scalability of fleet.
  • Vehicles comprehensively insured at global level by IFRC.
  • IFRC will replace vehicles after 150,000km or five years, whichever comes first (in-country costs associated to vehicle change will need to be covered by the requesting PNS, but all other costs covered by GLS).
  • IFRC will provide fleet management support, including cost tracking and driver training.
  • There is no cost of disposal.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • Solution includes shipping the vehicle into operation area and shipping out after the end of the lease, which can delay the availability of the vehicle to the operation.
  • After five years, vehicle still belongs to IFRC and British Red Cross cannot donate it to partners.
  • It can be expensive in the short term, considering shipping costs into and out of operational area.
  • IFRC will charge a programme support recovery fee.

Local vehicle rental

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Locally available and no importation costs or delays.
  • It is easy to scale up or down.
  • It is easy to arrange at short notice.
  • It supports the local market.
  • Budgeting is easier when rates (including maintenance and service) are fixed.
  • There is no need to have own maintenance facilities or resources.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • Rental rates can be very high.
  • There may be a maximum mileage under the rental scheme.
  • Locally available vehicles may not be of a good standard.
  • Local maintenance practices may not be safe.
  • The right vehicles are not always locally available.
  • Renting vehicles from questionable business people could result in bad reputation by association. Consult international sanctions lists before entering a lease agreement.

Using other National Societies’ vehicles

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Vehicles are readily available and easy to scale down.
  • It gives support to movement partner.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • It is not always easy to scale up (they might not have enough vehicles).
  • It is only possible with small requirements.
  • Vehicles are not always of a good standard.
  • British Red Cross can only use what the partner has excess of or does not require.

Read the next section on Resourcing for fleet management here.



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In this chapter, “fleet” will be used as a generic term for any piece of equipment fitted with an engine, including vehicles, motorcycles and power generators.


Types of vehicles

This chapter will cover the use of passenger vehicles and cargo vehicles equipped with engines, as well as utility vehicles.

Light fleet all vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, including passenger cars, pick-up trucks, small trucks, minibuses up to 16-seaters.

Passenger vehicles – buses with over 16-passenger capacity.

Heavy duty trucks – buses with over 16-passenger capacity.

Construction and mechanical handling equipment – including tractors, forklifts, diggers.

Motorcycles – two-wheeled or three-wheeled motorised vehicles.


Types of generators

Where power is not available through a publicly maintained network, generators may be necessary as a temporary or permanent source of power. A variety of generators are available, which can make the selection process complicated.

A generator is generally composed of an electrical generator (the alternator) and an engine (or prime mover), in a single piece of equipment.

For more details on types of generators and how to use them, see the Power supply section of Defining fleet needs.


Read the next section on Defining fleet needs here.


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Shipping out the ERU kit

See the ERUs chapter for details on the ERU deployment process.



Shipping RLU stocks

See the RLU stocks chapter for details on shipping globally pre-positioned stocks.


Start reading the next chapter on Assets here.

Monitoring and reporting

In order to understand how your transport strategy serves the delivery of ongoing programmes, it is important to track transport needs, activities and results, and to present them in a structured reporting format, at agreed intervals. Ensuring that all movements are well documented will support the updating of the reports.

A format for monthly logistics activities reporting can be requested from the international logistics team. You may want to adapt it to the specificities of your activities (breaking it down per programme or per destination, for example), but below is a list of performance points that you can track and include in the transport section of the report.

Note that all of the information should be available from either transport documents (waybills, GRNs, claim forms, etc), from organisational information (per diem rates and fuel costs, for example) or from invoices (especially from freight forwarders or clearing agents).

Quantities:

Received

  • number of shipments received (for each transport mode)
  • total weight and volume of received goods (for each transport mode)
  • total number of units (parcels/pallets) received
  • ratio of shipments (for each mode of transport).

Shipped

  • number of shipments despatched (for each transport mode)
  • total weight and volume of dispatched goods (for each transport mode)
  • total number of units (parcels/pallets) dispatched
  • ratio of shipments (for each mode of transport).

Costs:

Received

  • total cost of handling (offloading, reception check and storage).

Shipped

  • total cost of handling (loading)
  • total cost of rented vehicles
  • total cost of use of own vehicles (fuel consumption, driver’s per diem, etc)
  • average cost of shipping per kg or ton (for each transport mode).

Lead times:

Received

  • average number of days in transit to delivery point (for each transport mode and origin).

Shipped

  • average delivery lead time (for each transport mode and origin).

Claims and performance:

Received

  • number of claims raised to sender/transporter
  • number of unresolved claims with sender/transporter
  • OTIF receptions: number of shipments received on time and in full, with no claims raised, for total number of shipments received.

Shipped

  • number of claims received
  • number of open claims (under investigation)
  • OTIF deliveries: number of shipments delivered at destination on time and in full, with no claims received, for total number of shipments dispatched.

International shipments

Received

  • number of shipments cleared through customs (for each  mode of transport)
  • total cost of clearing cargo (for each mode of transport and kg/ton).

Shipped

  • number of international shipments despatched (for each mode of transport)
  • total cost of international shipments (for each mode of transport).

Optimising transport management

The data presented in the activities report can be used to steer the transport activities towards more efficient use of resource to deliver the needs of programmes.

Data from the report should be shared with other teams, to encourage better use of resources. For example:

  • Showing the relationship between better anticipation in order placement and cheaper transportation costs will encourage requestors to place their orders earlier, to save transportation costs.
  • Performance data should be shared with service providers to help them focus on necessary improvements.
  • Data on cost of freight can be used to benchmark freight forwarders against the average costs of shipping.
  • Data on cost of customs clearance can be used to benchmark clearing agents against the average clearing costs.

Organising transport to/from UKO

Read detailed information on organising transport to and from UKO from within the UK and the rest of the world here.


Logistics-owned vehicles

Check with the logistics team if a vehicle is available for quick short-distance, urgent deliveries.


Taxi

Taxis can be arranged for the movement of goods within London – depending on the size of the goods, this can be cheaper than a courier. Taxis (Green Courier) can be booked via the post room up to a week in advance. Cost codes are required, and it is preferred that the post room is approached before last collection at 4pm. Taxi apps have been used in the past (with payment via procurement card).


Read the next section on Shipping ERU kits and RLU stocks here.


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The air waybill

An air waybill (AWB) is a standard form distributed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that accompanies goods shipped by an international air courier to provide information about the shipment and allow it to be tracked. The bill has multiple copies, so that each party involved in the shipment can document it.

An AWB serves as a receipt of goods by an airline (the carrier), as well as a contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier. It becomes an enforceable contract when the shipper (or shipper’s agent) and carrier (or carrier’s agent) both sign the document. 

The AWB contains:

  • the shipper’s name and address
  • the consignee’s name and address
  • the origin airport code
  • the destination airport code
  • the declared shipment value for customs
  • the number of pieces
  • the gross weight
  • a description of the goods
  • any special instructions (e.g., “perishable”)
  • the carrier’s terms and conditions and charges.

There are two types of AWBs – an airline-specific one and a neutral one. Each airline’s air waybill must include the carrier’s name, head office address, logo and air waybill number. Neutral air waybills have the same layout and format as airline AWB but aren’t prepopulated.

There are two further types of air waybills: the master AWB and the house AWB.

A master airway bill (MAWB) details the complete information of the consignment, including the place of origin, destination and cost of the shipment. Most importantly, it is issued by the agent on behalf of the airline.

A master air waybill has 11 numbers and comes with eight copies, in varying colours. Since 2010, paper air waybills are no longer required. The ‘e-AWB’ has been in use since 2010 and became the default contract for all air cargo shipments on enabled trade lines in 2019.

A house airway bill (HAWB) is released by a freight agent and serves as proof that the goods have been received by the customer. A HAWB provides two benefits to the customer – it serves as proof of receipt of the goods and is evidence of an agreement between both parties. The HAWB clearly states the terms and conditions and should be read by both parties carefully. Bear in mind that HAWB is not the document title. Most importantly, only one copy of a HAWB is issued, while the airline or the agent releases seven copies of a MAWB (of the total eight copies available).

A HAWB does not have a long verification code like the MAWB ‘s 11-digit code. The first three digits is a prefix, while the rest of the numbers are used to keep track of the consignment.

View and download examples of a Master AWB and House AWB here.


 Master air waybillHouse air waybill
Issued byCarrier
(e.g. airline, shipping line or groupage service)
Forwarding company
(e.g. Kuehne Nagel)
Issued on
Carrier's pre-printed air waybill formStandard air waybill form
Signed byCarrier or their agentForwarding agent
(carrier not stated)
IATA rulesApplyMay or may not apply
T&CsCarriage T&Cs statedForwarder's T&Cs stated
ReferencesMAWB numberMAWB & HAWB number

Available to download here.


The bill of lading

A bill of lading (B/L or BoL) is used for sea shipments.

It is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper that details the type, quantity and destination of the goods being carried.

A text box describes the three functions of a bill of lading: acting as a document of title to goods; as a receipt for the shipped products; as a representation of the agreed terms and conditions for the transportation of goods

A bill of lading also serves as a shipment receipt when the carrier delivers the goods to a predetermined destination. This document must accompany the shipped products and must be signed by an authorised representative from the carrier, shipper and receiver.


A bill of lading is a legally binding document that provides the carrier and shipper with the necessary details to accurately process a shipment.

BoLs usually carry the name of a specific person (consignee). This is called a “straight bill of lading” and means that the person to whom the shipment is being delivered is the only person who can sign for and accept the shipment. This bill of lading is non-transferrable.

View and download a Bill of lading here.


The waybill

A waybill is an official shipping document that travels with a shipment, identifies its shipper, transporter and consignee, origin and destination, describes the goods and shows their weight and freight. See above for more details on how to use the waybill copies.

The standard IFRC waybill form is available here and at the end of this section.


The CMR

A CMR is a waybill used in international road transportation. It is an abbreviation of a French term: “Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route”.  

If goods are being transported internationally by road within the European Economic Area, you must use a CMR note. At least three original copies are required, which are signed by both the freight carrier and the sender.

See link for members of the CMR convention – shipments by road from Europe to these countries (and back) require CMR letters. The CMR forms a contract between the sender and the carrier company and confirms that the carrier has received the goods. It also sets out the transport and liability conditions between the two parties.

The following details are part of the CMR waybill:

  • place and date of issue
  • address and name of sender
  • address and name of carrier
  • place and date of acquisition of the goods, and place of delivery
  • name and address of recipient
  • definition of the type of goods, as well as the type of packaging
  • the quantity and sequence of the packages (“box 1 of 22” for example)
  • the weight and dimensions of each box
  • statement of costs (for example, for freight, tariffs, extra charges, etc)
  • instructions for handling tariffs, and for other official regulations
  • the agreement that all transports must conform to conventions, even if contents differ
  • mention of the prohibition of transhipment
  • the costs carried by the sender
  • the collection fees at delivery
  • exact information about the value of the transport goods
  • all handling specifications from the sender to the carrier, for insurance
  • the time limit by which the transport must be completed
  • a list of all documents handed to the carrier.

The colour-coding and disposal of the CMR consignment not is explained here.


Read the next section on Transport data analysis here.



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Whenever vehicles are used to transport goods belonging to the Red Cross Movement, it is strictly forbidden to transport:

  • weapons of any sort
  • any personal items or other freight not directly related to the operation requiring transport services
  • people, be they Red Cross personnel, military, or beneficiaries. An exception would be providing urgent transport to the nearest medical facility, but this must, as far as possible, be agreed with a security or fleet manager beforehand and captured in an incident report upon return.

Any observed breach of these rules must be immediately reported in an incident report.


Reporting incidents

All incidents involving British Red Cross staff or property must be reported – refer to the British Red Cross or applicable National Society’s incident reporting procedure for information on how to do this. 

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


Use of military transport means

As per the Movement guidelines on the use of military and civil defense assets (MCDA) in disaster relief:

“Military assets should only be used as a last resort, where there is no civilian alternative and only the use of military assets can meet a critical humanitarian need.”

No armed escort is allowed for shipments undertaken for the Red Cross Movement, unless:

  • There is extremely pressing need (e.g., to save lives on a large scale).
  • It represents no added security risk to beneficiaries.
  • No one else can meet the needs.
  • Armed protection is for deterrence and not firepower.
  • Parties controlling the territory are in full agreement with armed escort.
  • Protection against bandits/criminals is needed.
  • Authorisation is given in advance, at the specified level – typically secretary general or senior director within the HNS and ICRC/IFRC in Geneva.

All military actors run the risk of not being perceived as neutral and jeopardising the Red Cross Movement’s commitment to neutrality and impartiality. Absolute rules in terms of using military resources are:

  • Never use armed military transports.
  • Never use the assets of a party involved in an armed conflict.
  • Never use military assets simply because they are available.

Use of the RC emblem on transport not owned by Red Cross

Red Cross-owned fleet will always bear a Red Cross emblem. The decision on which emblem (ICRC, IFRC, British Red Cross or HNS) to use will be made in discussion with the lead Red Cross Movement partner and the HNS – this applies to both Red Cross-owned and Red Cross-rented vehicles.

An image of Red Cross-owned vehicles with the Red Cross emblem

Where fleet is rented, the emblem must be clearly visible on the rented vehicle (truck, small vehicle, boat, or plane).

An image of a ship bearing the Red Cross emblem

On road vehicles, flags should be used at the front of the vehicle. The emblem, in whatever form, must be removed and retained by the Red Cross logistics or transport manager immediately after the vehicle is no longer serving the Movement.

An image of rented lorries with Red Cross emblem flags on the front of the vehicles

Based on the above conditions, where the Red Cross agree to use military assets for transportation, vehicles must visibly carry the emblem.

An image of a military helicopter bearing the Red Cross emblem

Read the next section on Transport documentation here.



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Some consignments are more sensitive than others. Typically, the transportation of dangerous goods or cold chain items require stricter preparation and tracking.

Cold chain shipments

When transporting cold chain items, remember to:

  • Double check the cold chain capacity calculations: are you sure that the temperature can be maintained for the duration of the shipment?

    If not, make sure you include additional icepacks to the consignment, include them on the packing list and waybill, and provide the transporter with instructions as to when and how they must be used.
  • Include a temperature tracker in the consignment. You can usually arrange for shippers to fit a tracker in a container (at a cost).

    Where you are the shipper of goods, you can procure temperature trackers to include in boxes, and provide the receiver of the goods with means to read the trackers once goods are delivered.
  • Follow up on any cold chain rupture claims notified by the consignee and implement corrective actions.

Transporting dangerous goods

There are nine classes of dangerous goods. Find more information on dangerous goods here.

Transportation of dangerous goods is highly regulated and should ideally be handled by a third-party service provider. Freight forwarders usually have capacity to advise on dangerous goods shipments and may have to pick them up from your warehouse to arrange for special packaging prior to the shipment.


Drop-ships

Drop-ships are cases where a supplier might deliver to the end user directly, upon specific request of the buyer. The buyer can be the consignee or a service provider acting on behalf of the consignee (a regional logistics hub, for example, in the context of the Red Cross Movement).

In drop-ships, the supplier will usually present at the delivery place with a waybill of their own format and/or an internal delivery note. In this case:

  • Sign the waybill only when all packaging units have been accounted for (pallets, boxes or loose cargo).
  • Sign the delivery note when all the items on the packing list have been delivered. The transporter should leave a copy of the signed delivery note with the person who signed it.
  • Raise a claims form where there is any discrepancy.
  • Raise a GRN to record entry into stock.
  • Move the goods to the bulk storage area or proceed to distribution if the goods have been delivered at the point of usage.
  • Update stock records if goods enter the warehouse.
  • Inform the sender (supplier or third party, such as RLU) that goods have been received. Send copies of waybill, delivery note and claims form.

If drop-shipped goods are distributed immediately, they do not need to be recorded in stock. A delivery note is enough to reconcile with the order or requisition.


Deliveries at point of usage

Where requested goods are delivered at the point of usage or distribution, a delivery note is preferable to a GRN, as the items are not to be managed by logistics. That way, the items do not become Red Cross stock, but the delivery is still documented. A copy of the delivery note must be kept in the procurement file before it is transmitted to finance for payment.


Read the next section on Safety, security and incident reports here.



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Shipping instructions are critical in any transport operation, and even more so in the international movement of humanitarian goods. Shipping instructions must be created per destination and updated regularly to show the most up-to-date information.

It is the responsibility of the logistics manager in the country of destination to ensure the shipping instructions are up to date.

Typically, shipping instructions must provide the below details:

  • consignment delivery address and contact details at delivery place
  • appointed freight forwarder/customs agent contact details (“notify party”)
  • delivery requirements: warehouse opening hours, requirements of pallets or labels, availability (or not) of mechanical handling equipment
  • document delivery address and contact details (“consignee”)
  • documents needed to accompany the shipment
  • in the Red Cross Movement, shipping instructions will also contain information and contact details of the IFRC regional hub overseeing the shipment of the goods.

Shipping instructions can be shared by and to anyone along the supply chain.

From: consignee
To: shipper
Where the shipper is the seller of the goods or the transporter

From: shipper
To: transporter
Where the shipper is arranging for transportation of the goods

From: consignee
To: freight forwarder/customs agent
Where the agent is in charge of delivery from entry point to final destination, per shipping instructions


Read the next section on Special considerations here.



Download the full section here.

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