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Using containers as storage facilities in humanitarian logistics

Ayşenur Şahin (Department of Industrial Engineering, Çankaya University, Ankara, Turkey)
Mustafa Alp Ertem (Department of Industrial Engineering, Çankaya University, Ankara, Turkey)
Emel Emür (Department of Industrial Engineering, Çankaya University, Ankara, Turkey)

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 2042-6747

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the use of freight containers to store relief items instead of operating a permanent warehouse building.


A mathematical model is developed to determine the location and quantity of containers as well as the type and amount of relief supplies to store in order to investigate the practicality of using freight containers for storage. The model is tested using earthquake risk data, estimates of population under risk, and the distances between cities. An experimental study is performed using Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (abbreviated as AFAD in Turkish) data for total number of relief supplies.


Considering the earthquake risk of possible locations, the results of the study indicate the target locations for containers. The idea of using containers as storage facilities helped beneficiaries to be reached within a short distance and in an efficient way.

Research limitations/implications

The presented model is not implemented in real life disaster relief operations even if it is tested with real earthquake risk, demand and distance data.

Practical implications

To apply this model in practice, the container locations within cities should be determined and managerial operations such as maintenance, environmental, and security planning have to be considered.


This study presents the first analysis of three sub-topics’ intersection: warehousing, pre-positioning in disaster relief, and containerization. To the best of authors’ knowledge, containers have not been considered for storage of relief items in humanitarian logistics before.



The authors are grateful to AFAD personnel who shared some of the experimental data and commented on the results of our model to increase the practicality of the idea. The authors would like to express our sincere thanks to the editor, and to the anonymous referees whose detailed reviews and constructive comments helped us improve the paper. The authors also thank the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) who partially supported this study with the research Grant No. 113M493.


Şahin, A., Alp Ertem, M. and Emür, E. (2014), "Using containers as storage facilities in humanitarian logistics", Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 286-307.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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