Grocery chains’ emergency value can’t be discounted-22 March
April 14, 2016 1 Comment
The private expertise making sure grocery shelves are filled everyday needs to be included in emergency planning, new research says.
Government agencies could struggle to get food and other supplies to the public if they had to do it instead.
Dr Mark Wilson, Head of Department of Global Value Chains and Trade at Lincoln, co-authored ‘Civil Defence and Emergency Management Capabilities: An Assessment of New Zealand’s Framework and Humanitarian Logistics Response to the Christchurch Earthquakes 2011’.
The research uses the Christchurch earthquakes to look at the logistical capabilities of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM).
Humanitarian logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet the requirements of people in an emergency situation.
Dr Wilson says the Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarket chains, despite their own severe disruptions, ensured supply was maintained to affected areas during the February 2011 earthquakes.
“Much of this success story can be put down to the expert management and professional staff work that played out during the first few days and weeks after the earthquakes.
“This cooperation greatly facilitated the health and wellbeing of the citizens and also negated to a large degree the need to mobilise food aid supply chains through aid agencies,” Dr Wilson says.
However, the research finds that there is little capacity within CDEM if it had to perform the same task, and little thought to include logistics as a major planning function for emergency events in the future, or to work more cooperatively with private sector logistic professionals where skills sets are lacking.
Much of this shortfall stems from the major food distribution companies not being included in the Lifeline Utility Grouping of emergency services such as power and water companies and telecommunications set up by CDEM to plan for emergencies.
“It seems nonsensical, almost negligent, that logistics does not receive the level of importance it warrants,” Dr Wilson says.
“New Zealand is a market-driven economy that relies heavily on the commercial sector to manage the ‘backbone’ of the country’s infrastructure. Government departments are no longer resourced with planned redundant assets with which to respond to a disaster event.”
He says experienced logistics and supply chain management staff from the commercial sector should play an important role in the future if asked.
The location and utility of logistics assets, and the associated corporate knowledge, was not well understood across the CDEM sector during the response phase.
“If not addressed in the short term, logistics will continue to suffer the same problems of under-performance and lack of coordination that occurred following the Christchurch earthquakes.”
Apart from the New Zealand Defence Force, which has also diminished considerably in size over the past decade, commercial companies are the ones who are looked at to respond with appropriate equipment and expertise during a time of need.
This was the case during the Christchurch earthquakes where commercial electricity, water, transport and grocery companies were relied upon to respond.
They have a detailed knowledge of what high-value logistics assets they possess and where they could be utilised, he says.
“Arrangements need to be in place to share and collaborate with CDEM, not just in response to a disaster but also in the readiness phase.
“It is within this readiness phase that preparations, exercises and desktop simulations occur, ensuring that every stakeholder is well prepared for a variety of potential events.”
Data for the research came from a survey of 83 CDEM managers and specialists, and face to face interviews at national, regional and local levels. The research was part of a larger work conducted at Massey University and co-authored by Shaun Fogarty, Paul Childerhouse and Walter Glass.