No two humanitarian disasters are the same, which means ShelterBox responses need to be flexible as well as fast. Always looking to improve value for families in need and for our donors, the charity has been working with LCP Consulting, experts in how to sharpen our supply chain.
When ShelterBox goes shopping for aid products, the whole world is its market place – boxes from Belgium, tents from China, Vietnam and Pakistan, solar lighting from the USA, water filters from the UK.
Getting the very best value for money means considering where each item is sourced, the reputation of its suppliers, and the cost of transporting it to our headquarters in Cornwall, UK for packing, or sometimes direct to a disaster zone. All this for an aid organisation that has to be prepared every day of the year for an unknown workload in unpredictable locations.
This complex map of sourcing, supply and storage needs constant review as new products and new trading routes emerge. So ShelterBox is fortunate to be working with one of the world’s major supply chain thought leaders, LCP Consulting. LCP has worked across many sectors, including retail, manufacturing, public services, chemicals, energy and automotive. They are using this vast knowledge to help ShelterBox develop a world class supply chain.
LCP also has an impressive list of household-name clients, including retail giants Marks & Spencer, ASDA, Hewlett Packard, Sony, British Airways, DHL Solutions, Unilever, Walmart, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Shell, Argos, and Tesco.
Alison Wallace, Chief Executive of ShelterBox, says, ‘Many of the lessons and logistics that help goods reach our supermarket shelves apply also to ShelterBox’s procurement needs, so the offer of working with LCP was very valuable to us. The aid products that we purchase must be of good quality, available in the quantities we need, and from sources that we can rely on to help us respond to sudden demand during a major disaster. We must also consider where in the world we position our supplies, for what duration, and how they should be stored.’
‘Although our workload is volatile and unpredictable from month to month, we absolutely have to deliver at the right time and value for money – our donors and supporters rightly expect nothing less.’
LCP features ShelterBox as one of its online case studies, amid dozens of national and international brands. It says, ‘Time was of the essence for an NGO that provides temporary shelter for displaced families in disaster zones. Working closely with their team to understand their business, we developed a solution to deliver improved value for money to donors, increased organisational capacity, and more effective response times. Strengthening their supply chain enabled them to deliver help where it was needed, and fast.’
Shelterbox asked LCP to review its processes and operations to provide an independent view on where improvements could be made. Their recommendations include shortening the lead times on product ordering where possible to minimise stock and storage costs. They recognised the need for fast on-the-ground response to support families who need aid, so advised ShelterBox on the forward deployment of stock and the availability of response teams, all aimed at increasing the charity’s deployment agility and reducing its costs.
In April this year ShelterBox itself offered advice to the retail industry about the challenges of delivering to parts of the world where there may not be roads, let alone postcodes. CEO Alison Wallace spoke at the Home Delivery World Europe conference to an audience including brands such as Harrods, Habitat and Disney, and product deliverers including eBay and Direct Link.