Storing, tracking, inventory, and transport of supplies

Storing

Before any supplies are purchased, secure storage should be identified by the Management team. Ideally, the storage facility should be near the office of the Laboratory coordinator and/or the training site. It should be of adequate size, clean, well-ventilated and cool, as some supplies might deteriorate if exposed to excessive heat or moisture. Supplies should be well organized in the storage facility, and only the required people should have access. If supplies must be stored in multiple locations, the same conditions should exist at all sites.

Tracking

The Laboratory coordinator is usually responsible for the receipt, organization, distribution and tracking of supplies and equipment from the laboratory to the field and national laboratories. The Laboratory coordinator should develop a tracking sheet that will be used in coordination with the Survey coordinator. A tracking sheet should include the following information for each item:

  • item description
  • quantity ordered
  • quantity received
  • date of receipt in the country
  • date of clearance from customs
  • storage location
  • condition of item
  • any additional useful information.

A similar sheet should be developed for distributing equipment and supplies to field teams at the start of and throughout the survey fieldwork. This sheet should include the item, quantity, date of distribution and intended recipient, with a duplicate copy for the Regional supervisor or Team leader to sign when they receive the material. More information is available in the Supply tracking and distribution online tool.

Management of equipment and supplies is a crucial activity during survey planning, training, pilot and fieldwork. Good management will limit any delays of the training and fieldwork, and ensure that all teams have sufficient quantities of correct supplies to carry out their work.

Inventory and equipment checks

Before going to the field, each team should complete an inventory to ensure that there are adequate supplies for the assigned fieldwork over a defined period. The team should also check that all equipment is in good working condition, with all necessary components. If portable freezers and centrifuges are included in the survey, a servicing electrician should test them before teams disperse to the field.

Some equipment needs to be tested on a routine basis in the field. Haemoglobin photometers, for instance, should undergo daily cleaning, maintenance and testing during data collection. All electronic and mechanical equipment should be routinely tested according to manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that they are in good working condition. All portable electronic devices should be fully charged and backed up each night so that they are ready for the next day. Any equipment malfunction should be immediately reported to the Team leader, who should report it to the appropriate Regional supervisor. Backup devices should be stored at a site that is accessible to teams during fieldwork.

In addition, the vehicles used for the survey need to be serviced and in good working condition prior to the start of data collection, and they must be well maintained throughout the fieldwork period. Vehicle breakdown can cause major delays during data collection and make it difficult for the field teams to complete their work.

Transport of supplies

Secure storage and transport of survey supplies can be complex, depending on the number of teams, the composition of the teams, and the types and quantity of equipment and supplies needed daily. Certain equipment, such as portable freezers, centrifuges, and tents require quite a bit of space. There should be a clear chain of responsibility for equipment and supplies. For laboratory work this chain goes most frequently from the Laboratory coordinator to the Regional supervisor and the Team leaders.

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