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Road transport is by far the most ubiquitous methods of moving cargo globally. Road transport also happens to be something that individuals or shippers can easily managed directly without having to go through a broker or third party. Trucks and vehicles can frequently be sourced locally, even in the early days of an emergency response, though quality of vehicles and roads may vary.  

Common Terms in Road Transport

Transloading

The act of loading goods directly from one truck to another truck, frequently done at border crossing points or points at which ownership changes hands. Can be used to speed up delivery to final destination.

Tractor

A powered vehicle with a heavy-duty engine specifically designed to pull large loads on trailers. Tractors usually run on diesel fuel, have multi-ratio gears, and come in the form of a large cab.

Trailer

An unpowered, multi axle platform that is pulled by a tractor. Trailers can have many configurations, including being flat surfaces, enclosed, refrigerated, two part (close-coupled) or some variation of therein.

Semi-truck / Tractor Trailer Truck

The combination of a tractor coupled with a trailer, joined with an articulated joint (drawbar) that enables enhanced manoeuvrability. 

Single Unit Truck / Straight Truck

A truck where the cab and the truck bed section are permanently connected, and joints are not articulating. The wheels under the bed section can be powered from the main engine giving all-wheel drive and additional grip and handling on the road.

Axle

A rotating shaft that connects wheels on either side of the base of a vehicle. Trucks are often described by the number of axles they have. A higher number of axles may be required for heavier loads or unimproved/off road conditions.

Shunting

Sometimes referred to as "shifting". The act of transporting cargo over short-haul distances between near-by and often predefined locations, such as between a sea port and a warehouse, or within a defined property. Shunting vehicles may require less special equipment and may incur less wear and tear, and often operate in urban environments. Some shunting operations use specially designed tractors to move trailers on to facilitate quick parking, unloading, loading, and staging for departure

Long Haul

The act of moving cargo over long distances, comprising days or weeks and possibly crossing international boundaries. Long haul trucking may require cooking and sleeping amenities for drivers, repair equipment on board at all times, long range communication equipment, and may require off road capabilities.

Lift Gate 

A self-powered platform connected to the rear of a truck that will lift pallets/heavy cargo without the need for manual loading. Sometimes also called a "lifting platform."

Intermodal

The act of switching between two modes of transport. In trucking, intermodal frequently refers to the use of shipping containers that can be loaded between different vessels and vehicles as a single unit without having to offload cargo.

Porter

Human, hand loading and offloading. Porters are heavily used in humanitarian contexts.

Bonded Trucking

A truck that is hauling cargo that is yet uncleared through customs into a country. Bonded trucking is highly regulated and comes with additional security precautions that must be complied with. Bonded trucking is typically for short-haul activities, such as moving cargo from an airport to an off side bonded storage facility, but also commonly used while in transit across multiple countries.

Road Transport Arrangements

Typical road transport arrangements can look like:

Self-managed Owned or Rented Vehicles

Agencies running operations of any length in any context may wish to buy, rent or lease vehicles that are solely dedicated to and under the management of the agency itself. If an organisation decides to acquire its own vehicles, there are a number of areas to be considered, such as the type of vehicle and body type. The nature of the emergency response operation may also require that mechanical handling aids need to be incorporated into the overall vehicle specification to facilitate loading and offloading. Rented and owned vehicles can be sourced locally, or they can be imported into the response operation at the behest of the organisation. Bringing in outside vehicles might be the best way of finding the best or most appropriate equipment, but may take a long time to acquire and cost a large sum of money depending on the distance to delivery and the type of transport used. Vehicles brought from a different country will also need to undergo regular customs formalities.

Advantages to self-managed vehicles:

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Be aware that some countries do not allow particular models to be imported. This is due mainly due environmental or economic reasons. In some cases, countries put extremely high import and/or registration taxes to protect their manufacturing market. If agencies are looking to import a vehicle, it is of paramount importance to find out the official and practical procedures for import.

Advantages to self-managed vehicles:

  • Purpose Built – Rented or owned vehicles can be designed, modified or built specifically to carry a particular product, such as cold chain items, which might require special handling.
  • Self Managed Drivers – Organisations in total control over their vehicles will be able to train and supply their own drivers, which will allow for development, specialisation and quality control in case of performance issues.
  • Customisation – Rented or owned vehicle can be outfitted with logos and visibility, and can have customs communications equipment installed and configured.
  • Quality control Control – Using a self-managed vehicle it’s much easier to ensure that the vehicle is used in an appropriate and ethical manner befitting of the agency.

Disadvantages to self-managed vehicles:

  • Time and Complexity - Self-management of vehicles and fleets can occupy a great deal of time, and require excessive attention from management.
  • Special Knowledge – Maintaining one or more shipping vehicles requires special skills and knowledge. Unless outside arrangements are made with third party repair services, organisations will have to identify and contract mechanics, and manage their own supply chain of spare parts. Dispatch and fleet management is also its own special skill, and requires knowledgeable and trained staff for coordinating movement of multiple vehicles.
  • Costs – the start up and investment capital required capital  to obtain vehicles, drivers and parts can be substantial, and aid agencies limited to grant funding may not be able to cover costs all at once. Operating in many contexts will also incur substantial insurance costs as well. Single Point of Failure – An owned vehicle must be managed until its property is effectively transferred to another party, including the update of property records by the local authorities. The organisation can be held accountable for any liability related to the vehicle during the ownership period.
  • Single Point of FailureOrganisations that own or manage their own vehicles run the risk of mechanical issues or an accident completely halting use of that vehicle at any time.

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Advantages of third-party transport:

  • Flexibility - Organisations can use commercial providers to meet fluctuating demand requirements
  • No Size Constraint – Organisations that may only ship infrequently, or only ship small quantities and may not need self-managed vehicles on hand at all times. Third-party transport caters to variable loads and journeys.
  • Lower Upfront Cost – Third-party transporters will have virtually no start-up costs, and the transporter may be able to offer a more cost-effective and a more efficient service by sharing loads with other shippers.
  • Reduced Complexity – The administration of vehicles and drivers is no longer the responsibility of the organisation, allowing the administration teams of the organisation to focus on other areas.
  • Local Knowledge - Third-party transporters or providers may have better working knowledge of country requirements, local restrictions, geography, vehicle requirements or limitations, optimised routes, sticking points and more.

Disadvantages of third-party transport:

  • Ethics Concerns – Third-party transporters don’t directly represent a contracting organisation, and as such may engage in activities aid agencies might find unethical, such as transporting equipment for parties to a conflict or employing child labour. Driver standards are also not controlled by the shipper, and activities such as drug use or unsafe driving may occur.
  • Additional Risk – Though shippers may utilise additional insurance, there is always an increased risk using third-parties who may have less vested interest in the delivery of aid cargo.
  • Higher Long-term Cost – Though start up costs may be substantially less with third-party transporters, over a long enough period of time and with enough cargo, third-party commercial transport may always be higher per kg. Organisations who are in a long-term programme and ship high volumes of cargo might encounter cheaper costs through renting or owing their own self-managed vehicles.

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How third-party trucking companies choose to charge for transport services depends on the country, the context, the anticipated needs of the contract, and even local norms and regulations. Common arrangements:

Pre-Defined Route

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Many trucking providers like to develop contracts based on pre-defined routes. The contract will stipulate a pre-established rate between two locations, expressed as either the cost of the whole vehicle, or as a rate per kg.  Pre-defined route based rates are good for agencies that have a known project plan with known and commonly used destinations. Soliciting tenders based on route based rates will help planners easily identify which trucking providers are more cost effective in which areas. 
Time-Bound

...

In some situations, planners and transporters may wish to specify contracts based on specific time intervals, usually daily or hourly rates. Time-based rates might be useful in the early days of a response, especially daily leasing of trucking services. Time-bound rates may also lead to poor cost controls however - if a vehicle is delayed for whatever reason, renters of the trucking service will be obliged to pay for those days unless otherwise clearly specified in the contract. 
Distance Based

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Some contracts are expressed as a rate per distance - usually kilometres - and charge renters of truck service per kg or vehicle. Distance based contracting may be similar to pre-defined routes, however it may be used when planners don't know all final destinations for delivery in advance. Planners should be careful with distance based rates - unless they have detailed knowledge of routes, they may have no way of validating actual distances covered. Planners may also want to implement a vehicle log book to track driver movements.

Chargeable Weight Weight

In most humanitarian contexts, the only constraints to loading a vehicle are the weight of the cargo, and if the load is oversized. There are some situations in which trucking companies may charge based on what is known as "volumetric weight." Volumetric weight can be applied when cargo is very light compared to its volume. If a humanitarian agency is leasing an entire truck the density of cargo may not be important, however in situations where an agency is being charged per kg, trucking companies may include minimum volumetric weights to help recover operating costs. Planners should assume that light, volumetric cargo may be charged at a different rate.

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It is important to be able to select the appropriate vehicle for the purpose required even if, at a later stage, it is necessary to revise this choice to reflect availability in the field. See below a description of the main body types and combinations that are available.

Body and Size

The overall size of the vehicle is largely tied to the load in question. There are many factors that might limit the weight of a vehicle, including local infrastructure, road conditions, local laws and even the overall quality of the vehicle itself. Generally speaking, the size to payload needs can be defined as in the table below:

...

Type

...

Axles

...

Max Gross Weight (Tonnes)

...

*Estimated Payload (Tonnes)

...

Typical Total Body Length (Meters)

...

Body

...

Single Unit Truck

...

2 axles / 4 wheels

...

3.5

...

1

...

Various

...

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...

Single Unit Truck

...

2 axles / 6 wheels

...

7.5

...

3.5

...

Various

...

Image Removed

...

Single Unit Truck

...

2 axles / 6 wheels

...

18.8

...

12

...

12

...

Image Removed

...

Single Unit Truck

...

3 axles

...

26

...

18

...

12

...

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...

Single Unit Truck

...

4 axles

Often times vehicles are referred to a weight rating, such as a twenty-tonne or forty-tonne vehicle. These tonnages referred to by the vehicle classification are specifying the maximum gross weight of the vehicle, which includes the weight of the cargo and the weight of the vehicle itself. These specific designations are important for route and transport planning, as many roads, surfaces and bridges are rated for different tonnages for a variety of structural or environmental reasons. This means that the actual weight of the cargo payload per vehicle will be moderately less, depending on the vehicle.

The actual maximum allowable payload weight per vehicle will be specified by the manufacturer, and can also be regulated by national or local regulations.  The overall body and engine type of the vehicle will also impact the specific maximum payload of the vehicle. For the purposes of planning, the size to payload needs can be defined as in the table below:

Type

Axles

Max Gross Weight (Tonnes)

*Estimated Payload (Tonnes)

Typical Total Body Length (Meters)

Body

Single Unit Truck

2 axles / 4 wheels

3.5

1

Various

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Single Unit Truck

2 axles / 6 wheels

7.5

3.5

Various

Image Added

Single Unit Truck

2 axles / 6 wheels

18.8

12

12

Image Added

Single Unit Truck

3 axles

26

18

12

Image Added

Single Unit Truck

4 axles

36

25

12

Tractor Trailer Truck

3 axles

26

18

16.5

Tractor Trailer Truck

4 axles

38

24

16.5

Tractor Trailer Truck

5 axles

40

24

16.5

Tractor Trailer Truck

6 axles

41

27

16.5

Close Coupled Trailer

Various

40

26

18.75

*The estimated payload is the weight of goods that can be carried without exceeding the maximum gross vehicle weight. Where law does not specify a maximum gross weight or local circumstances allow, this payload may be increased. For high volume / low weight cargo, the load may reach maximum capacity before weight limits are met.

Generic Body Types

The desired vehicle body/trailer type will vary according to the goods or materials being carried, the terrain, the distance, and the prevailing security conditions on the ground. There are many variants of body/trailer type available. Generic body types might include:

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Long haul vehicle movements may be along narrow roads with no shoulders, cross roads or turn around space. An especially long truck may not be able to turn around if needed while en-route, and may need to reach its destination or next large intersection, which may be hours or days away.Below

is a general guide for vehicle turning radius. Planners should note that actual turning radius depends on the vehicle, and different makes and At any time and regardless of the terrain, persons operating trucks must remain aware of height and width limitations of tunnels, underpasses, alleyways and enclosed parking areas, and must remain aware of weight limitations of bridges. When evaluating the size and weight limitations of vehicles, operators must also take the size and weight of cargo into account as well. A vehicle may be able to operate along a regular route under normal conditions, however an oversized cargo load my impact operating conditions. 

Below is a general guide for vehicle turning radius. Planners should note that actual turning radius depends on the vehicle, and different makes and models will have some differences. 

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Single Unit Truck (No Separated Trailer)

Truck with Separate Trailer

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Safety and Security

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Infrastructure – In the immediate aftermath of a rapid onset emergency, or as a result of armed conflict, infrastructure such as roads and bridges may be fully or partially damaged. Routes that may have been previously accessible may be inaccessible. Third-party transport companies and hired drivers should exercise caution around damaged infrastructure.Vehicle Marking – Depending

Transporting Dangerous Goods - Vehicles transporting any amount of dangerous goods (DG) for any reason should reference guidance on the surface transport of DG in the Dangerous Goods section of this guide.

Vehicle Marking – Depending on the context, there may be national and local laws that require vehicles containing specialty items such as livestock or any form of DG items to be properly labelled and marked while on the road.

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Domestic truck movement - In the majority of situations in which aid agencies operate, most cargo movement on roads operates domestically, which doesn’t require international customs clearance. Domestic cargo movement can be tracked in variety of ways, but the most common is a waybill. Many third-party transporters can use their own waybills, however agencies may wish to utilise waybills in their own formats. Organisation specific waybills tend to take specific needs into account, such as accounting for metric tonnage or tracking based on batch/lot number of medication, things which may not be tracked in the waybill provided by a transport company. Shippers are encouraged to use the standard set of shipping documents for all domestic movement. 

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  • The number of calls to a particular delivery point in any single day is limited.
  • The total vehicle travel in any day is limited and the driver's time is limited.
  • Vehicles have a fixed carrying capacity.
  • Whether the roads are suitable for the specific transport needs and vehicle, including road conditions, hairpin turns, and any narrow gates or physical structures. 
  • Volume of goods for each delivery point is known and each drop has a location for which there is an established driving time to and from the warehouse or to the next delivery point.
  • The quantity of goods delivered to any drop is smaller than the vehicle’s carrying capacity and there is an established time to deliver/collect at the drop point.
  • The operating hours of the delivery/offloading points are known, and constraints such as peak hours are understood.

Calculating a Route Plan

A vehicle route is scheduled by basic following steps:

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Cartons / sacks – when loading cartons or sacks into the bed of a truck, avoid stacking in pyramid or forming piles. Cartons and sacks should be stacked in even rows, as low to the bed of the truck as possible. Stacks should be arranged in interlocking "brick” format to avoid stacks from coming apart, and where possible, stacks of cartons or sacks should be secured with netting, tarp or rope, especially if the truck bed has no sides or bars.


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Bulky items – bulky items such as timber, generators, or other large equipment should be firmly secured to bed of a truck using rope or chain of appropriate strength.

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Loading Vehicles

Unlike sea or air cargo transportation, humanitarian actors will almost certainly be involved with the direct loading of cargo vehicles at some point. Loading of cargo onto a truck may appear fairly straight forward, however there are several things that shippers may need to consider. Frequently, third-party transport companies and private vehicle hires may understand the loading needs of their own vehicles, but in the event agencies are self-managing loading or the third-party service does not have the capacity to mange loading, organisations may have to - and possibly be legally required to - take responsibility for securely loading vehicles.

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Correct Loading

Incorrect Loading

Weight in Movement


Cargo on the back of a vehicle In all loading configurations, planners and loaders should consider:

  • Always load the heaviest items at the bottom of the items stacked onto a truck bed. Top heavy loads are more likely to fall over in transit.
  • Loaders should plan for weight to be evenly distributed on all four sides of a truck bed. Even if space is properly utilised, overly heavy cargo on one side of the vehicle will cause issues while in transit. 

Weight in Movement

Cargo on the back of a vehicle can be heavy or bulky, and while drivers may understand the overall weight of the vehicle while stopped or at low speeds, increased speed can cause the weight of the cargo to act on the vehicle in unintended ways. Forces acting on the cargo during transport are caused by different movements made by the vehicle. The acting forces are:

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Any place where a rope or chain passed over cargo and is secured to both sides of the vehicle is referred to as tie-down.

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A general guide for how many tie-downs to use can be seen below:

Number of Tie-Downs

Length of Load

Weight of Load

1

Shorter than 1.5 meters

Less than 500 kg

2

Shorter than 1.5 meters

Greater than 500 kg

2

Longer than 1.5 meters but shorter than 3 meters

-

3

Longer than 3 meters but shorter than 6 meters

-

4

Longer than 6 meters but shorter than 9 meters

-

4 (at least)

-

Greater than 4,500

5+

Additional tie-down for every additional 3 meters gained after 9 meters

Typical loads of cartons and basic relief supplies can be secured using nylon rope, however extremely heavy equipment such as generators or vehicle should be secured using chains. The best way to gauge the strength of a series of chain tie downs to secure a load is what is known as the “working load limit” (WLL). WLL is measured by combining the WLL of each individual chain or rope used as a tie down.  As an example, if a load is secured with four chains with a WLL each of 500 kgs, the TOTAL WLL for that load is 2,000 kgs.

To properly design a WLL for transport of heavy or bulky cargo, the total WLL of all tie-downs should be at least half the weight of the load itself. As an example, if a truck is transporting a generator that weighs 3,000 kgs, the combined WLL of all the securing chains should be at least 1,500 kgs. The WLL on the tie-downs accommodates for shifts in weight as the truck turns, stops or accelerates, shifting the centre of gravity of the heavy load. A general guide to WLL per chain type can be seen below.

...

Work Load Limit (WLL) in Kilograms (kgs)

...

Chain Size (cm)

...

Grade 30

...

Grade 43

...

Grade 70

...

Grade 80

...

Grade 100

...

0.6

...

500

...

1,100

...

1,400

...

1,500

...

1,850

...

0.8

...

900

...

1,800

...

2,200

...

2,100

...

2,600

...

0.95

...

1,200

...

2,550

...

3,000

...

3,200

...

4,000

...

1.1

...

1,600

...

3,200

...

3,900

...

-

...

-

...

1.25

...

1,900

...

4,000

...

5,000

...

5,400

...

6,700

...

1.6

...

3,150

...

5,900

...

7,200

...

8,250

...

10,300

Vehicle Recovery 

In the process of movement by vehicles in austere working conditions, vehicles can and will break down, become stuck, or otherwise be immobilised. Understanding they types of equipment and techniques used to recover vehicles is important to drivers and persons planning routes, while knowing the route and type of vehicle in use will help inform the type of recovery tools. Some recovery tools are extremely dangerous when in use, and should be operate only by knowledgeable persons with proper training! Some of the below recovery items are useful for recovering light vehicles only. Heavy vehicles exceeding 7-10 ton capacity may require additional special assistance.   

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Recovery Winch – Recovery winches are powered electric motors that can retract rope or metal cable. Many field level vehicles have winches permanently attached to the vehicle, usually on the front bumpers. Winches usually draw their power from the electric battery of the vehicle, and are capable of supporting the weight of the vehicle itself. Winches should only be attached to objects and anchor points that can physically support the weight of the vehicle and withstand the horizontal pressure applied by the winch. When a winch is being used, all persons should be inside a vehicle, have proper cover or be a safe distance away.

Winches are useful for pulling vehicles stuck in mud, or are otherwise immobilised on an incline. Because winches are made to support the full weight of a vehicle, the cables or ropes can be very dangerous under full pressure.  Additionally, improper use of a winch may cause damage to vegetation or nearby structures. Sometimes, vehicles with winches utilise what are called “snatch blocks” or "winch blocks" – pulleys that are designed to change the direct anchor point of a winch when a clean anchor isn’t available.

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Other tools that may be useful for vehicle of all size include:

...

than 9 meters

-

4 (at least)

-

Greater than 4,500

5+

Additional tie-down for every additional 3 meters gained after 9 meters


Typical loads of cartons and basic relief supplies can be secured using nylon rope, however extremely heavy equipment such as generators or vehicle should be secured using chains. The best way to gauge the strength of a series of chain tie downs to secure a load is what is known as the “working load limit” (WLL). WLL is measured by combining the WLL of each individual chain or rope used as a tie down.  As an example, if a load is secured with four chains with a WLL each of 500 kgs, the TOTAL WLL for that load is 2,000 kgs.

To properly design a WLL for transport of heavy or bulky cargo, the total WLL of all tie-downs should be at least half the weight of the load itself. As an example, if a truck is transporting a generator that weighs 3,000 kgs, the combined WLL of all the securing chains should be at least 1,500 kgs. The WLL on the tie-downs accommodates for shifts in weight as the truck turns, stops or accelerates, shifting the centre of gravity of the heavy load. A general guide to WLL per chain type can be seen below.

Work Load Limit (WLL) in Kilograms (kgs)

Chain Size (cm)

Grade 30

Grade 43

Grade 70

Grade 80

Grade 100

0.6

500

1,100

1,400

1,500

1,850

0.8

900

1,800

2,200

2,100

2,600

0.95

1,200

2,550

3,000

3,200

4,000

1.1

1,600

3,200

3,900

-

-

1.25

1,900

4,000

5,000

5,400

6,700

1.6

3,150

5,900

7,200

8,250

10,300

Vehicle Recovery 

In the process of movement by vehicles in austere working conditions, vehicles can and will break down, become stuck, or otherwise be immobilised. Understanding they types of equipment and techniques used to recover vehicles is important to drivers and persons planning routes, while knowing the route and type of vehicle in use will help inform the type of recovery tools. Some recovery tools are extremely dangerous when in use, and should be operate only by knowledgeable persons with proper training! Some of the below recovery items are useful for recovering light vehicles only. Heavy vehicles exceeding 7-10 ton capacity may require additional special assistance.   

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Scissor/Bottle Jack –  Scissor or bottle jacks are regular vehicle jacks that might be part of the standard package of tools that new cars come with. Scissor or bottle jacks are useful for changing single tires, but are really only best suited for flat, stable road conditions. Scissor/bottle jacks may not work well in mud, and can really only be used to elevate the vehicle enough to change a single tire. On non-paved roads, they may require a solid object underneath them to distribute the weight, such as a flat rock or a strong board. Scissor/Bottle jacks should only be used on the appropriate contact points to avoid causing damage to the vehicle. 

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High-lift Jack – High-lift jacks are far more robust than scissor/bottle jacks. They can be used to lift vehicles out of mud, or raise vehicles enough to place braces or other objects underneath them. When a vehicle is full lifted, a supporting high-lift jack can have enormous pressure on it; the jack handle if not properly secured can cause bodily harm, and the jack itself may collapse with the full weight of the elevated vehicle. High-lift jacks should only be used on the appropriate contact points to avoid causing damage to the vehicle. 

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Recovery Winch – Recovery winches are powered electric motors that can retract rope or metal cable. Many field level vehicles have winches permanently attached to the vehicle, usually on the front bumpers. Winches usually draw their power from the electric battery of the vehicle, and are capable of supporting the weight of the vehicle itself. Winches should only be attached to objects and anchor points that can physically support the weight of the vehicle and withstand the horizontal pressure applied by the winch. When a winch is being used, all persons should be inside a vehicle, have proper cover or be a safe distance away.

Winches are useful for pulling vehicles stuck in mud, or are otherwise immobilised on an incline. Because winches are made to support the full weight of a vehicle, the cables or ropes can be very dangerous under full pressure.  Additionally, improper use of a winch may cause damage to vegetation or nearby structures. Sometimes, vehicles with winches utilise what are called “snatch blocks” or "winch blocks" – pulleys that are designed to change the direct anchor point of a winch when a clean anchor isn’t available.

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Snatch Straps – Snatch straps are bands made of durable synthetic material that are designed for one vehicle to pull another vehicle. Snatch straps should be strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle being towed, with some additional tension caused by momentary velocity differences between the vehicle being towed and the vehicle pulling. Snatch straps should only be used in a slow-speed, and only in a recovery capacity. Much like the winching, snatch straps should only be in use when all persons are at a safe distance.


Other tools that may be useful for vehicle of all size include:

  • Tire irons
  • Full sized spare tires
  • External air compressors
  • First aid kits
  • Jumper cables 

Contracting Third-Party Transport 

Recommended Terms - All Movements

If humanitarian organisations plan to solicit and contract third-party transport services, below is a general guide to terms and conditions that planners may wish to consider.

  • The contracted trucking company should ensure that drivers fill in all required information on provided logbooks or activities sheets as instructed and agreed with the contracting agency.
  • It is recommended that the contracted trucking company should ensure a proper and adequate vehicle inspection checklist is completed daily.
  • The contracted trucking company should ensure all trucks have adequate lashing or tie down equipment, and all required handling equipment.
  • The contracted trucking company should ensure that all drivers wear safety equipment present in the truck for driver use as and when required.
  • It is recommended that humanitarian agencies require contracted trucking companies to use logbooks, activity sheets and vehicle inspection checklists, maintained for all drivers / equipment for quality assurance purposes. Contracting humanitarian agencies should inspect logbooks and activity sheets on a routine basis.
  • Where possible, drivers should be reachable during the whole transportation time by the contracted trucking company and contracting humanitarian agency whenever needed.

 Driver Training

  • The contracted trucking company should ensure the driver used for transporting humanitarian goods is well trained, and training can be demonstrated to contracting humanitarian agencies upon request.
  • The contracted transport company should ensure that the drivers used for delivering pharmaceuticals or other temperature sensitive goods are trained well and are aware of the temperature requirement of the goods being carried.
  • The contracted transport company should ensure that the drivers used for delivery dangerous goods are well trained on handling and transport of dangerous items, and in compliance with national and local laws and regulations.

Contracted Trucking Company Responsibilities

  • If any truck is subcontracted by contracted trucking company, the subcontracted vehicle is the contracted trucking company’s sole responsibility and should ensure the subcontractors comply with the conditions agreed between the humanitarian organisation & contracted trucking company.
  • The contracted trucking company is responsible for ensuring that all cargo is delivered within the agreed transit time period.
  • The contracted trucking company should ensure the drivers reach the correct point of delivery and the proof of delivery has to be signed and stamped by the consignee.
  • The contracted trucking company should ensure to handover of cargos at point of delivery.
  • The contracted trucking company should submit invoice, and receipts to the contracting humanitarian agency within the pre-defined contracted period after delivery.

Reports and Communications

  • The contracted trucking company should clearly communicate the daily transportation requirements.
  • The contracted trucking company should ensure that if drivers are not reachable, a status update report can be sent once the drivers are contacted. Update reports should be sent at a pre-defined period, established in the contract.
  • The driver used for any transport should report any instance of the following within a contractually pre-defined period:
    • Accident, theft, or damage at any point during the transportation.
    • Security incidents, including checkpoints, detention, armed conflict on the road, harassment from security officials or any other security relate matter.
    • Physical impediments including damaged infrastructure, road closures, impassable weather conditions, or anything else that may prevent vehicle movement.
  • Any additional charges billed without transport supervisor / manager awareness should not be accepted and should be removed from any invoice or ‘statement of account’ of the contracted trucking company.
  • The contracted trucking company should promptly inform the contracting humanitarian agency via phone or email in any case of discrepancy at the destination offloading point, such as short shipment, damages, theft, temperature variances or any other problem related to delays in delivering the cargo to the point of delivery.

 Insurance and Limitations of Liabilities

  • The replacement costs of lost or damage of transported items due to negligence should be the responsibility of the contracted transport company, and all repayment terms and deadlines should be included in the contract between parties.
  • The contracted trucking company should indemnify the contracting humanitarian organisation, its affiliates and its and its and their officers, and employees from and against all claims, liabilities, damages, and expenses arising out of or incidental to the performance of the services, for:
    • Any and all injuries to or death or illnesses of any person.
    • Any and all damage to or loss of property.
    • Any and all damage to or loss of humanitarian organisation's goods under the sole care, custody and control of contracted trucking company in the performance of the services.
    • Any and all breaches of applicable laws and regulations, except in cases of gross negligence or wilful misconduct of the contracting humanitarian organisation.
  • It is strongly recommended that the contracted trucking company should be obliged to take out and maintain, in its own name and at its own expense insurance adequate to cover its liabilities in full force and effect at all times during the contracted transport process:
    • Liability insurance policy to cover any and all shortages, damages, pilferage, missing, misallocation or any other loss of the goods while in the contracted trucking company’s care, custody or control subject to a maximum liability of an adequate amount to compensate the contracting humanitarian agency against any loss or goods damage in accordance to the applicable local laws and regulations; whichever is higher.
    • Motor third party liability insurance, with minimum compensation limits for bodily injury, death or property damage in accordance to local applicable law and regulations
  • All insurance policies effected by the contracted trucking company should contain the provision that they cannot not be amended, deleted or permitted to lapse without the express prior approval of the contracted company.
  • Deductibles under the insurances maintained by the contracted trucking company or its subcontractor should be the responsibility of contracted trucking company’s or its subcontractor's.

Recommended Terms - Temperature Controlled Movements / Requirements

In the case of the movement of temperature controlled goods, the following is recommended.

  • Prior to loading, the trailers should be at temperature required for transport. Loading should only be initiated when the temperature reaches the set point requested by the contracting humanitarian agency.
  • Trailer interiors should be clean, tidy, and free from bad odour.
  • If required, contracted trucking company should ensure that the cooling units have been programmed for permanent run prior to loading per instructions.
  • Contracted trucking company should ensure a copy of a valid calibration report is present in the truck.
  • Contracted trucking company should ensure the driver maintains an activity sheet where temperature readings are recorded at every transition / touch point / stop point.
  • Drivers should remain present at the dock area while goods are being loaded at origin and offloaded at destination.
  • Drivers should ensure doors are closed immediately after loading. Doors should be barred and locked if required.
  • Whenever the trailer doors have to be opened, including but not limited to loading, offloading, they should be closed immediately after-wards to avoid temperature disparities.
  • In case of any customs or third party inspection, the contracted trucking company should inform contracting agency immediately, detailing door opening and closing duration and the temperature readings should be recorded on the activity sheet.
  • The contracted trucking company should provide calibrated and proper functioning reefer equipment and ensure the driver checks the temperature and the reefer equipment’s running status at every stop.
  • In case of irregularity / temperature variance the contracted trucking company should inform the contracting humanitarian agency immediately.
  • The contracted trucking company should make sure the drivers do not remove any temperature monitors / data recorders once they are placed inside the trailer until the truck reaches the point of delivery.
  • The contracted trucking company has to ensure temperature monitors / data recorders are to be brought back after delivery.

Temperature Variances / Deviations

  • In case of deviations from the terms and conditions contained in this agreement/contract the driver should notify the contracted trucking company, who should communicate this with the contracting humanitarian agency immediately.
  • The contracted trucking company should make sure an investigation is done in case of a complaint / temperature variation issue is raised by the contracting humanitarian agency with regards to the temperature variances.
  • In any case of claim/complaints the contracted trucking company and contracting humanitarian agency will study the case, should provide the corrective and preventive actions and then proceed with the claim process and procedures.

Maintenance and Calibration

  • The contracted trucking company should ensure the reefer system used for transporting temperature controlled goods should undergo regular preventive maintenance.
  • The contracted trucking company should ensure the reefer trucks used are calibrated annually and should be certified.
  • Contracted trucking company should provide the contracting humanitarian agency with the records of truck maintenance and calibration certificates upon request.

Organising Humanitarian Convoys

In the course of humanitarian operations, humanitarian aid agencies may need to organise convoys for the proper delivery of relief items. The need to organise a convoy may be very contextually dependent - in well developed markets with high degrees of road safety and predictability, there may be no reason to use convoys at all. The use of convoys is usually based upon the insecurity of the operating environment, the uncertainty of the road conditions, the absence of persistent communications along the route, the value of the cargo, or any combination therein. General guidelines for organising convoys may be as follows:

Operational Basics

  • Though the decision is ultimately up to each humanitarian organisation’s management, it is strongly advisable that vehicles should not be part of military convoys, or even civilian humanitarian convoys with armed escorts.
  • Radio/telephone/communications contact should be kept between at least the vehicle at the back of the convoy and the leader.
  • Where possible, vehicles should carry communications equipment capable of reaching a location or focal point in a different location.
  • Planned convoy dates and contents should not be shared widely, or with unauthorised parties.
  • Local communities, police, military or governments may have procedures for organising convoys, or for passing through specific areas. Humanitarian organisations should liaise with proper authority figures before moving through unknown areas.
  • Humanitarian agencies may chose to operate their own convoys, or collaborate to form joint convoys. If more than one organisation is participating in a convoy, all parties should agree to and understand on rules in advance, and even develop written agreements in necessary.  
  • Agencies may use commercial vehicles, or they may utilise their own leased/owned vehicles. The policies and rules in place for convoys should reflect the transport arrangement. If commercial transporters are used in a convoy, terms of the convoy may need to be written into transporter contracts. 
  • The person/team on the receiving end of a convoy should ideally be informed in advance of what the anticipated cargo is, and if possible should receive an advanced copy of of the packing list, and receive estimated dates/times of arrival. All cargo should be counted - and if required weighed/measured - at the receiving end to ensure no cargo has gone missing along the way. 

In the event of a cross-border operation:

  • All customs related documentation should be identified and provided in advance to the driver, convoy leader, and intended recipient. 
  • A trustworthy person from the organising humanitarian agency should inspect cargo and vehicles both prior to arriving and the border crossing and after goods are cleared to ensure that cargo has not been tampered with and avoid accusation of smuggling. 
  • If cargo is offloaded and transloaded onto new vehicles, a representative from the organising humanitarian agency should be present to observe the process. Ideally, cargo should be counted after the transloading is complete to ensure that no theft or loss has occurred. 
  • Organisers should plan for border crossing times.
    • Vehicles may wait for days or even weeks at border crossings in some cases. Drivers must have the ability to eat and sleep safely while still maintaining physical presence around cargo vehicles.
    • Ideally, vehicles should be able to return safely in daylight hours if rejected at the border. 
    • Any and all delays or problems associated with customs or border crossing should be communicated to the appointed organising focal point as soon as possible. 

Convoy Organisers

It is strongly advised that convoy organisers should:

  • Appoint a convoy leader with experience and knowledge of the route.
  • Where possible, plan the route carefully in advance with designated stopping places.
  • Generate and provide all required documentation, including waybills and packing lists.
  • Decide before hand what procedures to follow if the convoy is obstructed or blocked, and brief all drivers fully before starting movement.
  • Identify a security focal point and/or organiser outside the convoy who will be on call during convoy.
  • Conduct detailed briefings with transporters/drivers.
  • Ensure they have driver names, contact details, and vehicle plate/registration numbers prior to departure.
  • Maintain communication with convoy leaders at pre-determined intervals where possible.
  • Following each trip, record any security intendents or checkpoints for future planning.
  • Develop a repair and recovery plan (spare parts, a chase vehicle, easy access to a recovery vehicle, etc.).
  • Recover visibility items once the mission has been completed, especially in cases where commercial vehicles are in use.

Convoy Vehicles

Before a convoy departs, it is strongly advised that vehicles should:

  • Be in a good mechanical condition. Organisations and planners should check for significant wear and tear, tyre pressure, etc.
  • Travel with a full complement of spare parts (filters, belts, spare tires, motor oil, etc.) wherever possible.
  • Where necessary, be well branded with their organisation logos. It is suggested to use at least one of the following items: flags, banners or large stickers.
  • Be fully fuelled and ready to depart upon reaching the assembly point.
  • It is strongly advised that vehicles have an alternate driver. The driver’s alternate should be legally able to drive, and have experience with long-haul trucking.

During a convoy, it is strongly advised vehicles should:

  • Obey speed limits, and drive only as fast as conditions permit.
  • Obey all local and national rules and regulations. 
  • Maintain a steady speed.
  • Not overtake other vehicles within the convoy.
  • If required, use flags to distinguish the first and last vehicle of each section.
  • Maintain a constant distance between each other. The recommended distance is 100 meters in day, 50 at night, however distance between vehicles will depend on terrain, the speed required, visibility, and other limiting conditions.
  • Not transport any cargo that is not contained on the associated waybills/packing lists, not part of the originally delivery plan, and that is not intent ended for humanitarian use.
  • Where avoidable, not move in convoy before sunrise and/or after sunset.
  • Abandon the convoy or leave any truck behind without instruction from the convoy leader or authorised person.
  • Not pick up hitch hikers or other persons not originally in the convoy plan. Vehicles should be especially warned against transporting soldiers or non-state armed actors under any circumstances.

In the event a vehicle breaks down while in transit:

  • All convoy vehicles must stop. The convoy leader should contact the designated organiser and security focal point.
  • Convoys should resume only after it is determined that a repair/recovery effort is underway, or if the security focal point determines that it is safe to leave a vehicle behind.

Convoy Drivers

As a general guide, convoy drivers should:

  • Not carry or transport any form of weapons, narcotics, and/or spirits.
  • Depart without the authorisation of the convoy leader and/or authorised convoy organiser.
  • Hand over any fuel or communication equipment, money, or cargo contents to any persons on the road unless they are part of a planned delivery/distribution process.
  • Participate in any inappropriate behaviour (including but not limited to, any form of intoxication, harassment, sexual harassment, abuse of power). Appropriate behaviour of convoy personnel should be mandatory.
  • Drivers must carry all the necessary legal documentation clearing them to drive in the areas of operation.