Global enterprises are not the only organizations that benefit from supply chain software, as charities and other humanitarian groups have started to increasingly rely on state-of-the-art logistics solutions to make sure donations arrive on schedule at any point in the world, The Guardian reported earlier this month.
According to the news source, one of the biggest issues encountered by non-governmental organizations is getting goods and services to reach the intended beneficiaries. While some of the world's largest humanitarian groups are able to drum up support for a new initiative, the biggest hurdles are often at the end of their supply chain, in which conditions on the ground make it difficult to distribute goods like food and medicine.
For example, The New York Times reported that fighting between Somali government forces and Islamist militants made it difficult for aid groups to deliver food to the refugee camp in the border town of Dhobley. To address this issue, NGOs working in Somalia turned to commercial businesses to use their supply chain know-how.
"The commercial sector has shown good advances in the use of technology in that last mile, and it's something NGOs are now starting to become actively involved in," said Sean Barton, head of supply operations for Oxfam, according to The Guardian.
Using Mobile Data Collection Tools to Think Beyond the Warehouse
One of the biggest issues NGO supply chains face is in delivering goods to remote locations, according to The Guardian. While groups can efficiently deliver food and medicine to warehouses in major urban centers, making sure that a shipment arrives on time and intact to areas outside of the city has proven to be an issue. The New York Times reported that violence, corruption and theft deter aid shipments.
To address this issue, some organizations have begun turning to mobile data collection tools, The Guardian reported. For example, the aid agency World Vision uses a wireless barcode scanner and a Wi-Fi enabled laptop to track shipments from any location, no matter how remote it may be.
"It's about linking data collection with service delivery in the last mile," said Otto Farkas, World Vision's director of resource development and collaborative innovation, according to the news source. "Most automated systems stop at the warehouse; once you get into remote locations they're disconnected from the main networks, so you have to work offline and enter data manually. But we've been able to combine beneficiary identification with [information about] costs, entitlements, and delivery."
With a mobile data collection solution like RFgen, the challenges of field and remote data collection are solved by its high-availability and off-network capabilities.