martes, 26 de agosto de 2014

(iv) Tents and shelter. Hidden costs in humanitarian aid and emergency. TRANSPORT & STORAGE.

Is it just the price of the emergency tent the only important thing for taking the right decision when selecting a tent for emergency brigades?

When a buying decision has to be made, it is important to consider all its implications. To buy a tent is not just a matter of choosing anyone, like when one goes to the pastry shop, looks at the pastries and selects one for its shape, colour or by its expected taste.

For rightly selecting a tent the thing is something a bit more complex.
When a tent is going to be used in a future, and is not yet clear to what country or climate it will have to travel, and it is not clear either if it is going to be used just for people of one sex or both, if it is going to be used in a place where it is going to rain a lot or, instead, in a dry one, and the tent will have to spend part of its life stored in a warehouse waiting for an emergency to arise, and then be shipped quickly to a distant country where it is going to be useful for someone, then, the selection of the tent should take into consideration the different possibilities. 

The tent to be stored should include every element that could be needed at the emergency site, 
for instance, inner separating curtains, flysheet, floor, and others.

To store a tent should be done in an easy way, having packages easy to carry by hand and that can be stacked in order to minimize the warehousing space, and therefore reduce costs, and also making it easy to find the correct package when needed.

As all we know, when the emergency situation happens, there is no much time left to think and debate, is time to act fast, in order to help as soon as possible those who happen to be in the middle of the human drama.

Someone is going to pick up the needed tents from the warehouse and to prepare a shipment to the emergency site, the first shipments usually by plane. This person maybe do not knows anything about tents. At that moment it becomes critical to ensure that all the packages corresponding to the same emergency tent are shipped together and that the possibilities for them to be separated from each other are reduced to a minimum..., and that should be done with the minimum effort and minimun knowledge needed!

The tents will usually be loaded in a truck where the use of space is crucial, it should be possible filling the truck completely (without overload it) and then transfer the packages to the corresponding aircraft hold. At this time, it is also critical - before, it already was - the weight to be transported, as every kilo in an airplane counts a lot. To send an airplane plenty of emergency material is not cheap, to be able to send as much material as needed with the minimun weight, is a must.

For the above reasons a tent should be designed having in mind all these factors:

1) Minimun weight for maximun useful tent surface

2) Simple packaging including all the pieces that can be needed in different emergency situations

3) Better 1 package for a tent than 2 or more, as more packages, more easy to mislay one or to lose it completely. When one of the packages is not there at the emergency site, the rest of the tent can become unuseful.

4) Package shape should be as much as possible like a parallelepiped in order to there are no hollows left in the truck or in the aircraft. The rental of the plane, specially is going to cost mainly for the plane itself, so, in some manner we could be paying for transporting hollows, plenty of air, and, of course, we should avoid that happening.

5) As the tents are going to pass from one place to another, and usually not small quantities of them, the best way to carry a number of them, to fill the aircraft hold or to offload it, is with a forklift, but the best way to transport load with a forklift is within pallets. The best thing should be that the tents had pallet like size, in order to the load is distributed uniformly and organized adequately.

6) Each tent should be as easy as possible to be carried by human beings, as they are the ones who will put them in place at the emergency site before the tents are assembled.

To summarize, the big issues for pakaging and transport are:
Easy to transport tent bag Ctents
  • Minimum specific weight kg/m2 of useful surface
  • Every element needed included in the package
  • 1 package for each tent
  • Package with parallelepiped shape
  • Package dimensions compatible with international standard pallet size in order to fill it completely
  • Easiness of carrying.
One of the things most surprised us when we began to work on this aspects of tents design, is that most of the manufacturers have ignored these seemingly obvious criteria, if anyone has consider it!

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