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  • Total anticipated volume of cargo for the specific storage location.
  • Numbers and types of independent types of goods (SKUs) needing to be accounted for.
  • Interior space adequate for the anticipated flow of work.
  • Need for handling equipment (MHE) for cargo items – MHE parking spaces, recharging, etc.
  • Duration stored goods will stay for / the duration the storage site may be required for.
  • Need for ancillary activities – repacking, labelling, kitting, break bulk, etc.
  • Speed at which throughput/ancillary activities may be required – multiple loading bays, large dispatch area, etc.
  • Need for special storage - cold chain, dangerous goods, etc.
  • Additional planned buffer stock required.

The individual volume needs of different organisations can vary. A generic list of volumes per common relief item can be found in the below table:

ItemEstimated Weight (Kilogram)Estimated Volume (Cubic Meters)
Blankets (Bale of 20)25-300.1415 - 0.2
Body Soap (Carton of 50)100.01502
Buckets (Nested Stack of 50)500.4
Cement (50 kg bag)500.04
Empty Jerry Can (10 Litre)0.50.0201 - 0.0402
Keep Cool Box2-50.025 - 0.075
Latrine Slab120.34
Laundry Soap (Carton of 50)100.018
Mosquito Net (Bale of 50)22-280.002 1 - 0.0042
Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) (Carton of 500 1,000 Sachet)200.00405
Ready to Use Therapeutic Feeding (RUFTFRUTF) (Carton of 150 Sachet)150.02502
Sack of Grain (50 kg sack)500.18
Sleeping Mat (Bundle of 25)200.15
Tarpaulin (4 x 6 meter sheet) (Bale of 5)230.015025
Tin of Vegetable Oil (1 Litre)10.04001
Zinc Sheeting (PieceBundle of 20)350.025

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Dry Sand (loose large grained - dense fine grained)1,450 - 1,8501
Dry Gravel1,500 - 1,7001


Actual items obtained from local or international sources may vary in volumes. Understanding the specific storage needs might involve obtaining the volumetric measurements and all special handling needs of all related relief items from either a supplier or a central distribution warehouse.

Irregular and Special Storage

As agencies attempt to plan out space need in storage locations, they may encounter bulky or irregular items. In addition to planning generic outside dimensions, space planners should also estimate the fully required volume to adequately store an item, not just the outside dimensions.

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Irregular Shapes - Some irregular items, such as mechanical or farm equipment may have complex physical attributes that make space planning hard. When looking at highly irregular shapes, planners should consider the outside measurement of only the longest, widest and tallest parts of the item, as those are the parts that will come in contact with other stored items in a warehouse. To do this, planers should imagine an invisible box that is barely large enough to fit the irregular item, and use the “edges” of the “box” to calculate the total required space. In this way, the overall space requirement may actually be larger than they first appear.

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Nested Cargo – Some cargo items can be neatly “nested,” meaning that they can rest inside of or occupy space inside of each other. Buckets – a common humanitarian item – can fit inside one another, taking up considerably less space when stored appropriately. When planning space, organisations should account for nested storage by measuring the outer dimensions of the items while stacked/nested, and not the outer dimensions of the individual unit. In this way, overall space requirement may actually be less than they first appear.

Physical Storage Space Aspects

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Example warehouse floor plan of a larger warehouse operation:


Zonal Storage

Irrespective of the structure type or the size, space planners should consider planning the physical location of stored items relative to the amount of effort required to move or load them, including:

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An exception to storing infrequently used cargo in the rear of a facility is planning on storing extremely heavy or difficult to move items near the front of a warehouse or storage facility, even if they are used only rarely. Items like machine parts or generators might be cumbersome or even dangerous to move around inside of a storage site, and keeping them closest to the exit is an advisable strategy. This is especially true for storage locations that are entirely managed by hand - planners should think of the physical capabilities and safety of loaders.

Storage Space Zonal Plan
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Image AddedFrequently Requested/Oversized Items

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Image AddedItems of Average Request Frequency

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Image AddedLeast Requested Items

Storage Solutions

The ways in which cargo is physically stored in a warehouse can dramatically increase usable storage space, increase efficiency, and impact safety. Generally, there a few main categories through which cargo is physically stored and handled.

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Forklifts – A mechanised power loader capable of lifting full pallets and heavy equipment. Forklifts come in a variety of sizes to meet a variety of load needs, but generally come with an enclosed cab and a four wheel base. All forklifts will have a hydraulic or chain powered “mast” capable of extending and lifting cargo vertically. The height and lift capacity of the mast depends on the rating of the forklift, and more information can be found from the manual or manufacture website.

Depending on the make, forklifts can be powered by either battery, compressed gas, or diesel/gasoline. Forklifts are generally designed for either use inside a warehouse with even surfaces, or for all terrain outdoor use.

Before obtaining a forklift, humanitarian agencies should consider:

  • The availability of skilled or licensed operators.
  • The conditions in which the forklift will operate (indoor or outdoor).
  • The available energy source required to operate the forklift.
  • The space required to utilize in or around a warehouse.

Pallet Jacks – Sturdy, low centre push cart with forks capable of lifting a pallet a few centimetres off the ground. Pallet jacks are typically only powered by hand, using a hydraulic piston to gently lift and lower pallets. Pallet jacks generally require flat surfaces and only work indoors, but can assist with moving large loads quickly and with minimal effort.

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Rolling Warehouse Ladder - Heavy duty, reinforced metal ladder that can be repositioned around a warehouse to enable workers to reach higher shelves/racks. These types of rolling ladders tend to have extremely sturdy and wide food holds that enable workers safely and easily carry cartons and other handling units up and down. These types of rolling ladders typically only work on solid, smooth surfaces. 

Dollies – Occasionally referred to as hand trucks, dollies allow for moving of stacked cargo without the aid of a pallet. Dollies can be useful for moving relatively small loads, such as a stack of cartons, or a single large item, such as a large roll. Many dollies are designed with heavy duty inflatable ties to assist with operating outdoors.

Push Carts and Others – There are a variety of other simple tools to facilitate the movement of cargo around a warehouse or between mode of transits. A very common tool is a standard push cart, however there are many variations on sizes and components, and users should select the support tools most useful to them.

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Storage structures should have adequate inside lighting:

  • If ambient lighting isn’t sufficient for daytime usage, agencies should consider installing additional lights for daytime use.
  • Light should be sufficient for operating at night time. Larger facilities may need extensive lighting installations.

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After fumigation, continual inspection may be required. If infestations persist, there may be a need to alter storage or delivery methods. The use of additional liquid based pesticides may be required to spray around the exterior or floor of storage spaces. 

Goods Flow

Warehousing Documentation

The documentation requirements for warehousing can be vast, depending on the type of warehouse, regulatory controls over the stock or the facility, the types of commodities stored, or the specific activities of the agency running the facility. Documentation might include inspection reports, fumigation schedules, repairs, import/export documents related to bonded storage and more.

As an overview, most humanitarian agencies will use at least several standard documents across all of their storage operations, including large professional facilities all the way down to field level storage. These documents are essential for the proper audit and tracing of cargo as it flows in and out of agency managed facilities. It is important that this standard document be accurate, and that copies are properly kept – both at the site of operation, and eventually scanned/backed up in another location for wider historical record keeping.

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As cargo leaves the warehouse, waybills will also be generated. Agencies may wish to generate their own agency specific waybills to accompany cargo they pack and load. In other situations, third-party vehicles may generate their own waybills on the spot. In either case, warehouse workers loading cargo onto vehicles must ensure that the information contained on the waybill is accurate. Situations in which organisations may choose to use self-generated waybills may include:

  • The vehicle is managed/owned by the agency.
  • The destination of the vehicle is a facility or distribution site managed by the agency.
  • The contract with the third-party trucking company stipulates that they must use agency specific waybills.

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  • A GRN may capture information on multiple consignments arriving at once.
  • GRNs may take the place of waybills, which may show up with incomplete or incorrect information, or may not come at all.
  • GRNs are a form of standardising incoming information in the format most useful to the organisation.
  • With proper planning, a GRN can be generated prior to a shipment arrival so warehouse crews know what to expect at the point of offloading.

GRNs should capture dates, locations, persons involved in the transaction and the contents of the cargo entering the warehouse. The exact structure, contents and sequence of a GRN vary depending on needs – as an example, an organisation focused on medical interventions may need to track batch and lot numbers, while an organisation focused on food may choose to track items by the kilogram. Organisations should consider their own internal requirements when drafting a GRN.

Example GRN:

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Example Stock Card:

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Physical Warehouse Maintenance Schedule 

Below is a suggested periodic maintenance schedule for warehouse management. 


CleanCheck
Daily
  • Floors
  • Pest signs
  • Locks
Weekly
  • Walls
  • Sides of racks, shelves, fridges
  • In-depth check for pest
  • Stability of racks, shelves
  • Exterior lighting systems
  • Perimeter walls/fences 
Monthly
  • Floor
  • Stored Items
  • Roof
  • Gutter
  • Truck parking areas
  • Facility grounds
  • Wall cracks
  • Water leakages
  • Fire Extinguishers/Sand Buckets
  • Condition of handling equipment 

Warehouse Equipment Maintenance Schedule 

All equipment in warehouse facilities - including racking and shelving - will require periodic maintenance. This may include replacing parts, applying lubricants, checking batteries, conducting daily charging or cleaning, or just conducting ongoing inspection to ensure that service equipment and physical holding structures are not displaying signs of damage and distress. Generally, the service schedule for different equipment items will be provided by the manufacturer, however the overall need to conduct daily or weekly inspections may also depend on the size of the warehouse and the overall daily handling requirements. The larger the facility, the more pieces of equipment will likely require maintenance. Additionally, warehouses with high degrees of throughput may also require more regular maintenance. Warehouse managers should develop a maintenance schedule for warehouse equipment breaking down daily, weekly and monthly/yearly service needs, and should also maintain separate logbooks for key pieces of equipment, such as forklifts. Proper tracking of maintenance will increase the lifespan of expensive items, and will increase overall safety of the warehouse environment. 

Goods Flow

Warehousing Documentation

The documentation requirements for warehousing can be vast, depending on the type of warehouse, regulatory controls over the stock or the facility, the types of commodities stored, or the specific activities of the agency running the facility. Documentation might include inspection reports, fumigation schedules, repairs, import/export documents related to bonded storage and more.

As an overview, most humanitarian agencies will use at least several standard documents across all of their storage operations, including large professional facilities all the way down to field level storage. These documents are essential for the proper audit and tracing of cargo as it flows in and out of agency managed facilities. It is important that this standard document be accurate, and that copies are properly kept – both at the site of operation, and eventually scanned/backed up in another location for wider historical record keeping.

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Waybill
Waybill
Waybill/Delivery Note – Warehouses will often use common waybills as part of the overall documentation process. Waybills – also sometimes called “delivery notes” - come in many formats, and can represent either domestic or international deliveries. Waybills also tend to be generated by external third-parties, and are used for their own third-party tracking needs. If properly handled, at least one copy of the incoming waybill should stay with the receiving party (warehouse). If a copy cannot be left with the warehouse, the receiving warehouse should attempt to electronically scan a copy of the waybill, including all signatures and notes on it as evidence of delivery.

As cargo leaves the warehouse, waybills will also be generated. Agencies may wish to generate their own agency specific waybills to accompany cargo they pack and load. In other situations, third-party vehicles may generate their own waybills on the spot. In either case, warehouse workers loading cargo onto vehicles must ensure that the information contained on the waybill is accurate. Situations in which organisations may choose to use self-generated waybills may include:

  • The vehicle is managed/owned by the agency.
  • The destination of the vehicle is a facility or distribution site managed by the agency.
  • The contract with the third-party trucking company stipulates that they must use agency specific waybills.

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GRN
GRN
Goods Received Note (GRN) – Some form of GRN is typically generated at the point of reception into a warehouse facility. A GRN will theoretically contain the same information on incoming shipments as a waybill, but a GRN serves a few key functions:

  • A GRN may capture information on multiple consignments arriving at once.
  • GRNs may take the place of waybills, which may show up with incomplete or incorrect information, or may not come at all.
  • GRNs are a form of standardising incoming information in the format most useful to the organisation.
  • With proper planning, a GRN can be generated prior to a shipment arrival so warehouse crews know what to expect at the point of offloading.

GRNs should capture dates, locations, persons involved in the transaction and the contents of the cargo entering the warehouse. The exact structure, contents and sequence of a GRN vary depending on needs – as an example, an organisation focused on medical interventions may need to track batch and lot numbers, while an organisation focused on food may choose to track items by the kilogram. Organisations should consider their own internal requirements when drafting a GRN.

Example GRN:

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ReleaseOrder
ReleaseOrder
Goods Release Note/Stock Release Order – A goods release note serves a similar function as a GRN, however a release note’s goal is to capture the information on items as they leave the warehouse. Many organisations choose to use the release note the same as an official pick-order; the requesting party initiates the release note indicating which items are required, and obtains counter signature from the appropriate entity within the organisation. A completed release note will capture the final dates, quantities and persons involved with the loading all the way to the truck.  A proper release note will tell a story of what was removed, why and by whom. Many agencies don’t actively use release notes, opting to only use waybills at the time of release or communicating pick-orders via email.

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stockcard
stockcard
Stock / Stack / Bin Card – A stock card is a physical, hand written record that stays alongside the corresponding physical cargo inside a warehouse or storage facility. Stock cards are sometimes referred to as “stack cards". The nature of the tracking stock card does not change, however – its purpose is to trace the history of the physical consignment in a quick and easy to reference manner.

Example Stock Card:

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A stock card should at the bare minimum include:

  • The item description.
  • Any consignment or procurement relevant information.
  • Dates and quantities of cargo items received.
  • Dates and quantities of cargo items released.
  • Running total balance.

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  • The weights and volumes for each line item are recorded.
  • Full count is conducted against the waybill. Discrepancies between the piece count and the waybill or damages should be noted on the waybill.
  • All incoming items should be inspected. 
    • Items with expiration dates should be recorded on both stock cards and the warehouse ledger, and compared against any purchase orders or packing lists.
    • Dangerous items should be properly recorded on stock cards and the warehouse ledger, properly labelled, and properly segregated according to their storage needs.
  • A goods received note (GRN) for the received items is generated.
  • Items are placed in appropriate, corresponding place in warehouse/stock room.
  • Physical copies of the GRN and Waybill are backed up in a secure location in the office warehouse.
  • As item are placed in the warehouse, stock cards should be updated. If no stock card yet exists, a new stock card should be generated.
  • Shipments arriving without prior notification may be rejected, depending on security, warehouse capacity and policy of the organisation.
  • If damaged or expired items are received, they the items should be rejected and returned if possible. If not possible to reject items (internal transfer) damaged or expired items should be separated from the main consignment and placed in a well-marked location, to be repaired or disposed of later. 

Planning Dispatch

Much like planning cargo reception, there are steps that warehouses and organisations can take to plan for cargo dispatch as well.:

  • Cargo dispatch should be planned in advance and communicated to the warehouse; pick orders .
    • A formal release order should be
    clear
    • authorised, and
    warehouses
    • relevant warehouse staff be issued a formal pick order
    • Warehouses should be given time to pull down cargo, compile shipments, and stage for pick up.
  • If at any time a dispatch is not possible (damaged, expired items, or item cannot be found) the requesting party should be notified, and the release order modified. 
  • Vehicles arriving for pick up should be known and scheduled in advance. Vehicles arriving for unplanned cargo pick-ups, or arriving announced for planned cargo pick-ups may be delayed or rejected based on the policy of the managing organisation.

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  • A physical piece count on the consolidated cargo is conducted to confirm correct number.
  • A waybill or a goods released note is generated (if required by the terms of the movement), containing information on the released cargo, dates, and names of person releasing and driver picking cargo up.
  • Stock cards and inventory Ledger ledger updated with the new piece counts.

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Below are conversion calculators for commonly used units of measurements:


HTML
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<div style="width:248px;margin:0px auto;"><div style="width:99.5%;border:1px solid #34495E;border-top:none;border-bottom:none;text-align:center; height:24px;font-size:16px;padding:5px 0px 0px 0px;border-top-right-radius:5px; border-top-left-radius:5px;background-color:#34495E;color:##FFFFFF; font-weight:bold;"><font color="#FFFFFF">Length Conversion</font></div><script type="text/javascript" src="https://ww.theunitconverter.com/converter.php?l=en&c=0&a=FFFFFF&b=34495E&s=length"></script></div>
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<div style="width:248px;margin:0px auto;"><div style="width:99.5%;border:1px solid #34495E;border-top:none;border-bottom:none;text-align:center; height:24px;font-size:16px;padding:5px 0px 0px 0px;border-top-right-radius:5px; border-top-left-radius:5px;background-color:#34495E;color:##FFFFFF; font-weight:bold;"><font color="#FFFFFF">Weight Conversion</font></div><script type="text/javascript" src="https://ww.theunitconverter.com/converter.php?l=en&c=0&a=FFFFFF&b=34495E&s=weight"></script></div>
</td>

<td>
<div style="width:248px;margin:0px auto;"><div style="width:99.5%;border:1px solid #34495E;border-top:none;border-bottom:none;text-align:center; height:24px;font-size:16px;padding:5px 0px 0px 0px;border-top-right-radius:5px; border-top-left-radius:5px;background-color:#34495E;color:##FFFFFF; font-weight:bold;"><font color="#FFFFFF">Volume Conversion</font></div><script type="text/javascript" src="https://ww.theunitconverter.com/converter.php?l=en&c=0&a=FFFFFF&b=34495E&s=volume"></script></div>
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</center>

Source: www.theunitconverter.com

Physical Storage Guidelines

Irrespective of the size of the warehouse/storage facility or nature of the storage arrangements, there are basic rules humanitarian organisations can use to enhance their physical stock management processes.

In any situation where cargo is stored for any period of time, it is strongly advised that humanitarian warehouse managers utilise both some form of inventory Ledger and a paper stock/stack/bin card system.

An ideal inventory Ledger will be electronically maintained, utilising some form of spreadsheet or special use software. The ledger should be constantly kept up to date, and should be easy to access and understand by any team member responsible for accounting for cargo on site.

Stock/stack/bin cards should be clearly visible from the floor of the warehouse, legible, easy to read, and utilise the local language of operation. Stock/stack/bin cards should match the inventory Ledger.

Stock managers must by default practice FIFO – First In / First Out – unless otherwise required to. Some storage facilities may have large volumes entering and leaving the physical facility, and managers must take care to ensure that old stock is not forgotten or ignored.

Perishable items with expiration dates must be closely tracked and dispatched in accordance with the practice of FEFO - First Expired / First Out. Items with expiration dates less than three months in the future or expired items should flagged and communicated to program staff to ensure they are properly utilised.  

Stored cargo must always be separated from the ground, using pallets, tarpaulin, shelving, or racking. Warehouse managers should be constantly motoring the status and condition of stock on hand. All handling units should appear in good condition, and be free from avoidable damage of any kind, including water damage, punctures or rusting. If cartons or items appear to be crushed, punctured or experiencing damage from regular wear and tear, they must be separated, repaired (if possible), and returned to inventory in a manner that prevents future damage.

Stock Counts

There are a variety of methods for conducting physical inventories. Agencies should review different inventory methods, and set up guidelines and time intervals for conducting inventories, including ad-hoc and regularly scheduled annual inventories. 

Damaged Items

Throughout the course of managing physical stock, damaged items will be discovered, either as a result of age, expiration, mishandling, or even from items that were defective in the first place. As damage items are discovered, they must be clearly marked and addressed. Some damaged items can be repaired, especially if damage is only to outer packing. An item that is ultimately still usable, but has damaged outer packing can be repacked into new cartons/bags where available, the packaging itself can be taped or sealed. Even if there are no replacement cartons/bags available, the usable items can be stored loose on the racks/shelf/stack and be marked for usage first during the next pick order.

If the core item is ultimately not usable due to extensive damage, spoilage or expiration, the item will need to be separated from the rest stored goods. Damaged goods should be clearly marked, and stored in a separated area. Depending on the severity of the damage, a loss report may need to be generated, including the number of units damaged and the associated values. As damaged items are removed from the general inventory, inventory Ledgers should be fully updated, with damaged items clearly indicated as being deducted from the full inventory count. 

Damaged items may need to be returned to a vendor, handed over to third party authorities, or be disposed of. 

Disposition

As warehouses continue throughout their operations, they will inevitably need to dispose of damaged, expired, recalled, or no longer required goods. Disposition of any item must be done in an ethical, environmentally friendly and legal manner, all in compliance with the internal policies of the organisation managing the facility. Options for disposition:

  • Donation/Resale – items still in usable condition can be sold or donated to other agencies or local populations in accordance with donor regulations and internal financial policies.
  • Dispose – some items can be thrown directly into the trash without concern, such as small quantities of expired food stuffs or cardboard.
  • Destroy – some items, such as expired medication, harmful chemicals, bulk foodstuffs, and special “dual use” or military grade hardware, may need to be actively destroyed. Many local authorities have regulations on the destruction of these items, and there may even be authorised companies certified in destroying key materials. Agencies should investigate local laws and seek out disposal companies whenever required.
  • Re-export – some items, such as heavy machinery, may need to be re-exported from the country of operation. Re-exporting of key items may be required by donors and national authorities, or may be just more cost effective than local disposition.

Ground Storage / Stacking

Ground storage and stacking is extremely common in humanitarian warehousing operations, especially in field settings near the final distribution points. Storing cargo on the ground and/or in stacks has become a default, largely because the necessary infrastructure to manage special warehouse equipment of storage solutions isn’t always available, there are limited skill sets available in the local market, and many of the smaller field warehouses are by nature transitional.

In NFI operations, stacking can be challenging. An average humanitarian program can have dozens of individual SKUs to fulfil a variety of programmatic needs. With an increased number of SKUs, maintaining large piles of cargo can make identifying and managing individual cargo items difficult. There are several mitigation measures agencies can take when faced with generating cargo stacks in a warehouse.

Cargo stored on the ground or in stacks should always be clearly demarcated. A stock card should physically accompany every stored SKU item, and warehouse managers should be able to quickly identify and pick orders without having to sort through piles of non-related items.

Cartons/Bales/Sacks

Wherever possible, stacked cargo should be stored in as uniform manner as possible for quick counting and identification. To facilitate this, warehouse managers must:

  • Identify the pallet configuration; single pallet vs. multiple pallets pushed together on the ground.
  • Plan a “layer” system for the stack. Each layer and row of carton/bale/sack should have the same number of handling units.
  • Start with a base layer on the lowest level first. Once the lowest later is complete, repeat the second layer in an interlocking pattern for stability.
  • Plan stack layers for like item units only. Avoid stacking/layering different items/SKUs.
  • Ideally, plan to keep only units from the same consignment in the same stack.
  • Cargo should only ever be removed from the top layer to avoid instability.
  • Cartons/bales/sacks should not be leaning off the edge of the pallet.

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Proper Layered Stack

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Stacked cargo should be stored as safely as possible. Stacks should be layered in interlocking patterns; a non-interlocking stack is far more likely to fall over and/or put pressure on the lowest layer of cartons. Partially empty cartons should not be stored at the bottom of the stack to avoid the lowest levels from caving in and causing the stack to collapse.

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Do Not Use on Lowest Layers

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Non-Interlocking Stack

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Stacks should not be stored above an unsafe height.

  • A safe height may be context specific; for NFI cartons/bales/sacks of any size that are heavy enough injure workers, stacks should never exceed 2.5 meters, while light voluminous items such as empty plastic jerry cans might be stored higher if required.
  • No matter the height, warehouse workers should be able to safely withdraw cargo from the top layer without risk of falling or causing the stack to collapse.
  • A stack should not surpass a ratio of 3:1 - the height cannot be 3 times the horizontal width of the base.
  • Stacks should never be so high that they come into contact with the ceiling, and at least half a meter space should be left between the top of the stack and the ceiling for accessing items as needed.

Stacks should never exceed 6 meters in length, or a maximum floor space of 6 x 6 meters. Excessively wide or large stacks can cause multiple problems:

  • Spoiled or damaged items in the middle are difficult to spot or deal with.
  • Practising FIFO/FEFO may be difficult if cargo in the middle of a large stack is inaccessible.
  • Visual counting may be difficult or impossible.
  • Excessive weight in a single area of the warehouse may lead to structural risks.

Stacked items should not be slumping or falling over. Crushed or damaged units at the bottom of stacks should be addressed immediately; crushed items should be moved to the top of the stack, and if possible/necessary, reduce the height of the stack to prevent further damage.

Cylindrical Items

Ground storage of cylindrical items must be done in way to prevent items from rolling or falling. Ideally, items like tires and metal drums should be stored with their flat surfaces facing downward on a pallet or tarp. In some cases, cylindrical items may not be able to be safely stacked on their flat surfaces due to height restrictions, weight concerns, or the overall dimensions of the item – in which case guard barriers can be built outside the pallet or floor storage to keep the items in one place. Any guard barrier should be strong enough to contain the weight of the combined items.

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Timber/Lumber

Loose timber and lumber are commonly stored throughout the humanitarian sector. Timber should:

  • Ideally be stored outside in a covered space.
  • Separated by type/length/requirement.
  • Be easy to count.

Thought it may be tempting to stack timber in a pile, dense piles of wood can lead to infestation or rot, and make proper accounting very difficult. To facilitate timber management, solutions might include:

  • Bundles - Bind lumber/timber items into uniform bundles with identical piece counts. This will speed up counting, and make bulk moving of lumber/timber faster. Bundles are opened one at a time to facilitate pick orders. Bundles should still remain a reasonable size, and not be so large they break their bindings.
  • Layer Stacks - Stack lumber in uniform, interlocking patterns, much like laying layers for a stack of cartons/bales/sacks. Laying an interlocking pattern requires defining a base layer, and then repeating the same number of units on the next layer, and so on. The interlocking pattern allows for ventilation, something bundling cannot. An interlocking pattern of lumber/timber will always result in a fairly large foot print however, so stacking is only recommended when outside storage isn’t an issue.

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Double Stacking Pallets

Double stacked pallets are defined by one or more pallets placed on top of each other without the additional layer of a pallet rack or support structure. Double stacking is fairly common in transport, but should be avoided for any form of medium to long term storage in warehouses. A double stacked pallet can easily fall over and injure warehouse workers if any part of the bottom pallet is compromised, often without warning. A collapsed double stacked pallet can also easily destroy the contents of one or both of the individual pallets. With the inconsistent flows and constant changes of a humanitarian supply model, a double stacked pallet may end up being stored for much longer than originally planned, and managers may forget or simply not realise the dangers of double stacking.

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Pallet Racking

Cargo stored on pallet racking has advantages and disadvantages. Though use of pallet racking affords the efficient use of vertical space and rapid movement of large volumes of cargo, users of pallet racking sacrifice the ability to manage cargo at the unit level, instead having to work mostly with palletised cargo.

When managing cargo using pallet racking, pallets should be properly stacked and loaded. Ideally, only like items and/or items with the same SKU will be stored on the same pallet, and pallets containing the same SKUs will be stored next to each other on the same racks. Cartons and cargo on pallets should be uniform and even, with weight evenly distributed across the pallet to avoid accidents while moving using a forklift. Cartons or items on a pallet should also not stick out over the edge of the pallets to maximise the use of space on the rack.

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Improper Palletisation

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Proper Palletisation

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Ideally, pallets should also be well wrapped to prevent slumping or falling during movement and long-term storage. Pallet wrapping is cheap and widely used, and can be done by hand without the need for special equipment. Some products and warehouses also choose to utilised binding – synthetic or organic ropes or straps - that keep palletised cargo together. Properly wrapped or bound pallets will dramatically increase the longevity of the pallet.

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Pallet with Plastic Wrapping

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Pallet with Plastic Binding

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Other general guidance points for utilising pallet racking systems:

  • Pallets stored on racks for long periods of time may start to slump or display distress. Pallets appearing compromised must be pulled down, rebuilt/re-stacked and re-wrapped.
  • Racks should be numbered for easy reference, including the row number and the level of the racking.
  • Items most frequently accessed should be stored in the lower level of pallet racks. More infrequently accessed items should be stored on higher racks.
  • Extremely heavy, bulky or expensive items requiring rack storage should be stored on the ground floor of pallet racks to avoid injury while loading or damage to goods.
  • Pallets should be clearly labelled denoting consignment information, and should be legible from the ground and at any angle.
  • If stock cards are used, they should be kept at ground level in a safely accessible area.
  • The rows between racks should be separated far enough to allow for manoeuvring of handling equipment.
  • Pallets should be adequate width to sit on the cross beams without risk of falling through.
  • Pallets stored next to each other on pallet racks should not come into physical contact.
  • Pallets should be evenly balanced across the beam; no pallet should be leaning over the edge of the frame, nor sticking out too far.
  • Pallets should not exceed the weight limit of the racking.
  • Loading and offloading of racks should only be conducted by a trained professional.

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Pallet Rack Safely in Use

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Shelving

Warehoused items stored on shelving offers the quickest and most organised access to the lowest inventory unit. Where as ground stacking or pallet racking are meant for large scale storage of high volumes of items, shelving should be treated as a sorting point for individual items, much like items stored on the shelf a local store.

Shelving is ideal for items that are dispensed at low volumes, such as certain pharmaceuticals or communications equipment, or for high value or sensitive items. Shelved items tend be very detailed, and many individual SKUs can be stored on a single shelf. For this reason, proper accounting is essential.

  • Shelved items should have stock cards clearly visible and accessible. If shelved items are taken from a larger consignment in the warehouse, both the warehouse stock and the stock on shelving should probably be tracked on separate stock cards.
  • Shelves should not be overloaded, and all items should be clearly identifiable and separated.
  • Shelves should be clearly numbered for ease of reference.

As shelving tends to contain loose items or items at the unit level, there are a few tricks warehouse and stock managers can use.

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Physical Storage Guidelines

Irrespective of the size of the warehouse/storage facility or nature of the storage arrangements, there are basic rules humanitarian organisations can use to enhance their physical stock management processes.

In any situation where cargo is stored for any period of time, it is strongly advised that humanitarian warehouse managers utilise both some form of inventory Ledger and a paper stock/stack/bin card system.

An ideal inventory Ledger will be electronically maintained, utilising some form of spreadsheet or special use software. The ledger should be constantly kept up to date, and should be easy to access and understand by any team member responsible for accounting for cargo on site.

Stock/stack/bin cards should be clearly visible from the floor of the warehouse, legible, easy to read, and utilise the local language of operation. Stock/stack/bin cards should match the inventory Ledger.

Stock managers must by default practice FIFO – First In / First Out – unless otherwise required to. Some storage facilities may have large volumes entering and leaving the physical facility, and managers must take care to ensure that old stock is not forgotten or ignored.

Perishable items with expiration dates must be closely tracked and dispatched in accordance with the practice of FEFO - First Expired / First Out. Items with expiration dates less than three months in the future or expired items should flagged and communicated to program staff to ensure they are properly utilised.  

Stored cargo must always be separated from the ground, using pallets, tarpaulin, shelving, or racking. Warehouse managers should be constantly motoring the status and condition of stock on hand. All handling units should appear in good condition, and be free from avoidable damage of any kind, including water damage, punctures or rusting. If cartons or items appear to be crushed, punctured or experiencing damage from regular wear and tear, they must be separated, repaired (if possible), and returned to inventory in a manner that prevents future damage.

Stock Counts

There are a variety of methods for conducting physical inventories. Agencies should review different inventory methods, and set up guidelines and time intervals for conducting inventories, including ad-hoc and regularly scheduled annual inventories. 

Damaged Items

Throughout the course of managing physical stock, damaged items will be discovered, either as a result of age, expiration, mishandling, or even from items that were defective in the first place. As damage items are discovered, they must be clearly marked and addressed. Some damaged items can be repaired, especially if damage is only to outer packing. An item that is ultimately still usable, but has damaged outer packing can be repacked into new cartons/bags where available, the packaging itself can be taped or sealed. Even if there are no replacement cartons/bags available, the usable items can be stored loose on the racks/shelf/stack and be marked for usage first during the next pick order.

If the core item is ultimately not usable due to extensive damage, spoilage or expiration, the item will need to be separated from the rest stored goods. Damaged goods should be clearly marked, and stored in a separated area. Depending on the severity of the damage, a loss report may need to be generated, including the number of units damaged and the associated values. As damaged items are removed from the general inventory, inventory Ledgers should be fully updated, with damaged items clearly indicated as being deducted from the full inventory count. 

Damaged items may need to be returned to a vendor, handed over to third party authorities, or be disposed of. 

Expiration Management 

Under normal circumstances, warehouses are advised not to accept goods that have less than 6 months expiry period left, and should seek to rotate out items approaching 6 months left before expiring. Warehouse/stock managers should routinely generate regular reports that identifies those items that are due to expire within a user specified period, identifying each SKU, lot, quantity and date of expiry.  

General Expiry Management Rules 
Ordering ItemsIncoming orders that contain expiration dates should be flagged and notified to the warehouse teams, and shared with relevant persons or departments that own the stock. 
At Reception All incoming stock items should be inspected for expiration dates at the point of reception.
Ongoing Physical ChecksChecking expiration dates should be part of the physical inventory process, including looking for new expiration dates not already identified in the stock/inventory tracking system.
Items with 1-3 Months ExpiryPersons or departments storing Items with expiration dates should be notified when they reach 1-3 months left until expiration on a weekly or monthly basis, through email or other formal communication. 
Items with 0-1 Month ExpiryFor items with less than one month until expiration, it is advisable to notify the person or department that owns the stock - either in person or telephone - reminding them of the situation and suggesting that the goods are removed as soon as possible. Multiple reminders may be required.
Expired GoodsAny items that have expired must be segregated from the rest of the stock, and all orders put on hold so that no expired items are accidentally delivered. The person or department that owns the stock must be notified by phone, email or in person, and all proper disposition steps must be followed in accordance with local regulations and organizational policy. 

Disposition

As warehouses continue throughout their operations, they will inevitably need to dispose of damaged, expired, recalled, or no longer required goods. Disposition of any item must be done in an ethical, environmentally friendly and legal manner, all in compliance with the internal policies of the organisation managing the facility. Options for disposition:

  • Donation/Resale – items still in usable condition can be sold or donated to other agencies or local populations in accordance with donor regulations and internal financial policies.
  • Dispose – some items can be thrown directly into the trash without concern, such as small quantities of expired food stuffs or cardboard.
  • Destroy – some items, such as expired medication, harmful chemicals, bulk foodstuffs, and special “dual use” or military grade hardware, may need to be actively destroyed. Many local authorities have regulations on the destruction of these items, and there may even be authorised companies certified in destroying key materials. Agencies should investigate local laws and seek out disposal companies whenever required.
  • Re-export – some items, such as heavy machinery, may need to be re-exported from the country of operation. Re-exporting of key items may be required by donors and national authorities, or may be just more cost effective than local disposition.

Ground Storage / Stacking

Ground storage and stacking is extremely common in humanitarian warehousing operations, especially in field settings near the final distribution points. Storing cargo on the ground and/or in stacks has become a default, largely because the necessary infrastructure to manage special warehouse equipment of storage solutions isn’t always available, there are limited skill sets available in the local market, and many of the smaller field warehouses are by nature transitional.

In NFI operations, stacking can be challenging. An average humanitarian program can have dozens of individual SKUs to fulfil a variety of programmatic needs. With an increased number of SKUs, maintaining large piles of cargo can make identifying and managing individual cargo items difficult. There are several mitigation measures agencies can take when faced with generating cargo stacks in a warehouse.

Cargo stored on the ground or in stacks should always be clearly demarcated. A stock card should physically accompany every stored SKU item, and warehouse managers should be able to quickly identify and pick orders without having to sort through piles of non-related items.

Cartons/Bales/Sacks

Wherever possible, stacked cargo should be stored in as uniform manner as possible for quick counting and identification. To facilitate this, warehouse managers must:

  • Identify the pallet configuration; single pallet vs. multiple pallets pushed together on the ground.
  • Plan a “layer” system for the stack. Each layer and row of carton/bale/sack should have the same number of handling units.
  • Start with a base layer on the lowest level first. Once the lowest later is complete, repeat the second layer in an interlocking pattern for stability.
  • Plan stack layers for like item units only. Avoid stacking/layering different items/SKUs.
  • Ideally, plan to keep only units from the same consignment in the same stack.
  • Cargo should only ever be removed from the top layer to avoid instability.
  • Cartons/bales/sacks should not be leaning off the edge of the pallet.

Proper Layered Stack

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Stacked cargo should be stored as safely as possible. Stacks should be layered in interlocking patterns; a non-interlocking stack is far more likely to fall over and/or put pressure on the lowest layer of cartons. Partially empty cartons should not be stored at the bottom of the stack to avoid the lowest levels from caving in and causing the stack to collapse.

Do Not Use on Lowest Layers

Non-Interlocking Stack

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There are multiple varieties of alternatives for stacking loose cartons and irregular shapes. The configuration will depend on the commodity itself, the space requirements of the warehouse, and the speed and skill of the warehouse staff. Some possible configurations might include:

Block StackBrick StackPinwheel StackIrregular Stacks with Separators 

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Many ground stacking operations also utilize what is called "pyramid stacking." Pyramid stacks are useful for durable, bulky items and in contexts when high volumes of uniform items need to be stored in a relatively small space. Pyramid stacks - sometimes also called "stair stacking" have interlocking lairs with reduced diameters the further up the stack goes. The pyramid shape prevents dangerous items from falling, and may make accessing the top layer easier for hand loaders. 

Pyramid Stack

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No matter what the stacking configuration looks like, stacks should not be stored above an unsafe height.

  • A safe height may be context specific; for NFI cartons/bales/sacks of any size that are heavy enough injure workers, stacks should never exceed 2.5 meters, while light voluminous items such as empty plastic jerry cans might be stored higher if required.
  • Food bags, blanket bales or sacks of concrete can be stored in pyramid stacks, however pyramid stacks should still only be made as high as is contextually safe. 
  • No matter the height, warehouse workers should be able to safely withdraw cargo from the top layer without risk of falling or causing the stack to collapse.
  • A stack should not surpass a ratio of 3:1 - the height cannot be 3 times the horizontal width of the base.
  • Stacks should never be so high that they come into contact with the ceiling, and at least half a meter space should be left between the top of the stack and the ceiling for accessing items as needed.

Stacks should never exceed 6 meters in length, or a maximum floor space of 6 x 6 meters. Excessively wide or large stacks can cause multiple problems:

  • Spoiled or damaged items in the middle are difficult to spot or deal with.
  • Practising FIFO/FEFO may be difficult if cargo in the middle of a large stack is inaccessible.
  • Visual counting may be difficult or impossible.
  • Excessive weight in a single area of the warehouse may lead to structural risks.

Stacked items should not be slumping or falling over. Crushed or damaged units at the bottom of stacks should be addressed immediately; crushed items should be moved to the top of the stack, and if possible/necessary, reduce the height of the stack to prevent further damage.

Cylindrical Items

Ground storage of cylindrical items must be done in way to prevent items from rolling or falling. Ideally, items like tires and metal drums should be stored with their flat surfaces facing downward on a pallet or tarp. In some cases, cylindrical items may not be able to be safely stacked on their flat surfaces due to height restrictions, weight concerns, or the overall dimensions of the item – in which case guard barriers can be built outside the pallet or floor storage to keep the items in one place. Any guard barrier should be strong enough to contain the weight of the combined items.

Cylinders Stored UprightCylinders Braced/Stored on Side

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Timber/Lumber

Loose timber and lumber are commonly stored throughout the humanitarian sector. Timber should:

  • Ideally be stored outside in a covered space.
  • Separated by type/length/requirement.
  • Be easy to count.

Thought it may be tempting to stack timber in a pile, dense piles of wood can lead to infestation or rot, and make proper accounting very difficult. To facilitate timber management, solutions might include:

  • Bundles - Bind lumber/timber items into uniform bundles with identical piece counts. This will speed up counting, and make bulk moving of lumber/timber faster. Bundles are opened one at a time to facilitate pick orders. Bundles should still remain a reasonable size, and not be so large they break their bindings.
  • Layer Stacks - Stack lumber in uniform, interlocking patterns, much like laying layers for a stack of cartons/bales/sacks. Laying an interlocking pattern requires defining a base layer, and then repeating the same number of units on the next layer, and so on. The interlocking pattern allows for ventilation, something bundling cannot. An interlocking pattern of lumber/timber will always result in a fairly large foot print however, so stacking is only recommended when outside storage isn’t an issue.
Lumber Stored in BundleLumber Layer Stacked

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Double Stacking Pallets

Double stacked pallets are defined by one or more pallets placed on top of each other without the additional layer of a pallet rack or support structure. Double stacking is fairly common in transport, but should be avoided for any form of medium to long term storage in warehouses. A double stacked pallet can easily fall over and injure warehouse workers if any part of the bottom pallet is compromised, often without warning. A collapsed double stacked pallet can also easily destroy the contents of one or both of the individual pallets. With the inconsistent flows and constant changes of a humanitarian supply model, a double stacked pallet may end up being stored for much longer than originally planned, and managers may forget or simply not realise the dangers of double stacking.

Double Stacked Pallet

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Pallet Racking

Cargo stored on pallet racking has advantages and disadvantages. Though use of pallet racking affords the efficient use of vertical space and rapid movement of large volumes of cargo, users of pallet racking sacrifice the ability to manage cargo at the unit level, instead having to work mostly with palletised cargo.

When managing cargo using pallet racking, pallets should be properly stacked and loaded. Ideally, only like items and/or items with the same SKU will be stored on the same pallet, and pallets containing the same SKUs will be stored next to each other on the same racks. Cartons and cargo on pallets should be uniform and even, with weight evenly distributed across the pallet to avoid accidents while moving using a forklift. Cartons or items on a pallet should also not stick out over the edge of the pallets to maximise the use of space on the rack.

Improper Palletisation

Proper Palletisation

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Ideally, pallets should also be well wrapped to prevent slumping or falling during movement and long-term storage. Pallet wrapping is cheap and widely used, and can be done by hand without the need for special equipment. Some products and warehouses also choose to utilised binding – synthetic or organic ropes or straps - that keep palletised cargo together. Properly wrapped or bound pallets will dramatically increase the longevity of the pallet.

Pallet with Plastic Wrapping

Pallet with Plastic Binding

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Other general guidance points for utilising pallet racking systems:

  • Pallets stored on racks for long periods of time may start to slump or display distress. Pallets appearing compromised must be pulled down, rebuilt/re-stacked and re-wrapped.
  • Racks should be numbered for easy reference, including the row number and the level of the racking.
  • Items most frequently accessed should be stored in the lower level of pallet racks. More infrequently accessed items should be stored on higher racks.
  • Extremely heavy, bulky or expensive items requiring rack storage should be stored on the ground floor of pallet racks to avoid injury while loading or damage to goods.
  • Pallets should be clearly labelled denoting consignment information, and should be legible from the ground and at any angle.
  • If stock cards are used, they should be kept at ground level in a safely accessible area.
  • The rows between racks should be separated far enough to allow for manoeuvring of handling equipment.
  • Pallets should be adequate width to sit on the cross beams without risk of falling through.
  • Pallets stored next to each other on pallet racks should not come into physical contact.
  • Pallets should be evenly balanced across the beam; no pallet should be leaning over the edge of the frame, nor sticking out too far.
  • Pallets should not exceed the weight limit of the racking.
  • Loading and offloading of racks should only be conducted by a trained professional.

Pallet Rack Safely in Use

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Shelving

Warehoused items stored on shelving offers the quickest and most organised access to the lowest inventory unit. Where as ground stacking or pallet racking are meant for large scale storage of high volumes of items, shelving should be treated as a sorting point for individual items, much like items stored on the shelf a local store.

Shelving is ideal for items that are dispensed at low volumes, such as certain pharmaceuticals or communications equipment, or for high value or sensitive items. Shelved items tend be very detailed, and many individual SKUs can be stored on a single shelf. For this reason, proper accounting is essential.

  • Shelved items should have stock cards clearly visible and accessible. If shelved items are taken from a larger consignment in the warehouse, both the warehouse stock and the stock on shelving should probably be tracked on separate stock cards.
  • Shelves should not be overloaded, and all items should be clearly identifiable and separated.
  • Shelves should be clearly numbered for ease of reference.

As shelving tends to contain loose items or items at the unit level, there are a few tricks warehouse and stock managers can use.

  • Fragile items such as glass vials can be stored on the bottom shelf to reduce the risk of accidental breakage if handling units are dropped or fall over.
  • Liquids, powders and solids should be clearly separated. Liquids should be stored on bottom shelves, both because of their weight and because a ruptured package might leak on all items below it. 
  • Some like-items may still need to be separated. As an example - the same quantities and dosage of a single pharmaceutical may have different expiration and/or batch/lot numbers, or different items belong to different donor grants. Each item will need its own stock  card and clearly defined space.

General Storage Guidelines

Below are general guidelines for the most commonly stored types of items in a humanitarian context. 

Medical Items

  • Boxes should not receive direct sunlight.
  • Temperature in the warehouse should be controlled and recorded daily, and fridge temperature should be controlled and recorded where cold chain items are stored.
  • Drugs should ideally be stored by type of drug: infusions, injectables, oral drugs, diagnostic tests, etc.
  • Always store medical supplies separately from chemicals or food (pesticides, fertilisers, cement, fuel included), and dangerous goods. This also applies when loading onto vehicles.
  • If stored on pallets, all cartons should be clearly labelled with their contents.
  • Always record batch numbers (found on the outer cartons and on each container of the drugs, allocated by the manufacturer) and expiry dates of medical supplies upon receipt and record batch references at all stock movements, including on all stock/bin cards and all warehouse ledgers.
  • It is good practice to track medical supplies on stock cards raised by batch number. Alternatively, you can record the batch number of the drugs as they moved in and out of stock.
  • Expired drugs are not fit for human consumption and should be destroyed safely. Contact your local Food and Drug Administration to enquire about the regulations around the destruction of medical supplies.
  • Expired or damaged drugs must be quarantined until they can be safely destroyed. Keep a record of drugs placed in quarantine on the relevant bin and stock cards.
  • It is advisable that all medical items be rotated following the FEFO (first expired, first out) principle.

Food Items

  • Food needs to be protected from sun, rain, humidity and extreme temperatures.
  • Covered and protected storage space is always preferable.
  • If uncovered and unprotected storage cannot be avoided, make sure outside storage is only temporary (maximum 10 to 15 days).
  • Always store food separately from chemicals (including pesticides, fertilisers, cement, and fuel), dangerous goods and drugs. This also applies to when transporting items as well.
  • If you are treating a warehouse that contains food against pests, make sure the chemical used is food-safe (consult your regional logistics support if you are unsure).
  • Ensure the storage areas are cleaned daily, and that all cleanings are recorded (daily sweep, weekly clean and wipe-down, monthly deep clean).
  • Pay particular attention to infestation signs
  • Immediately separate and quarantine infested stocks from the rest. All infestations must be reported immediately to country managers.
  • Expired food items must be quarantined and stored separately until they can be destroyed.
  • Expired food must be disposed of immediately. Check with local health authorities to determine whether it can be used as animal feed or for the appropriate disposal method (incineration or burial). Be mindful that the destruction of food may sometimes cause strong cultural reactions.
  • Pay particular attention to the reception process to confirm weight received: weigh five to ten per cent of the consignment and extrapolate weight of the full consignment to estimate total weight of the consignment against documented weight or use a truck weighbridge to compare the actual weight to the documented weight on the GRN/delivery note/waybill. Record any discrepancy on the GRN.
  • Always record batch numbers and expiry dates of food items upon receipt and stock movement, including on all stock/bin cards and all warehouse ledgers.
  • It is advisable that all food items be rotated following the FEFO (first expired, first out) principle.

Construction Materials

  • Small parts such as screws, nails, turns and bolts are usually measured and accounted by weight rather than units.
  • For poles, sticks, metal bars and other long and/or bulky items, build “reference” storage areas, with items separated by quantity. For example, store wooden poles in bins with 100 pieces in each. This will help managing stocks per FIFO principles and avoid the deterioration of stock.
  • For sand, gravel and other loose materials, build tank storage per cubic metre to help track stock levels. A good option is to build one cubic metre “bins” and cover them to preserve the quality of the material.
  • The maximum height of a stack of cement should not exceed 15 bags, to prevent lumping from pressure.
  • Cement must always be kept dry and away from the walls of the warehouse. Ideally cover cement stacks with tarpaulin to protect the bags.

Chemical Products

  • Chemicals can never be stored with food or drugs supplies.
  • Many chemical products are defined as dangerous goods – dangerous goods should be identified and labelled/handled appropriately.
  • When conducting routine warehouse checks, check the packaging of chemicals thoroughly for wet cartons, chewed plastic, broken seals and spilt liquids.
  • Most chemicals are perishable. Maintain an alert system to warn of pre-expired chemicals.
  • The disposal of chemicals is extremely sensitive. Always refer to local laws and regulations. 
  • Fuel and chlorine are the most commonly stored chemicals in humanitarian contexts – make sure they are managed accordingly.

Adapted from the British Red Cross Warehousing Guidelines.

Temperature Controlled Items

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Fuel should be stored in a separate storage area outside the main facility, and at least 5 five meters (preferably more) away from the main structure. Any fuel storage area should be well ventilated, and be accessible only by designated persons. Fuel storage areas should have the appropriate fire suppression equipment nearby, and staff should be instructed not to smoke or perform external work in the immediate vicinity of the storage area. Never store fuel in a completely enclosed storage facility such as a shipping container, or a facility that can reach excessive heats.

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TEMPLATE - Temporary Allocation

TEMPLATE - Equipment Maintenance Log

TEMPLATE - Warehouse Equipment Maintenance Schedule

Guide - Pallet Specifications

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