I was supposed to rant about the inefficiencies and waste in my experience as a volunteer in a repacking center for relief goods last Tuesday. After a 4 hour blackout, though, my desire to rant dissipated so I’ll keep this short and simple:
The real bottleneck in repacking relief goods is the loading of the trucks.
A small truck can hold 300-500 packs for distribution. Unless the center has a fleet of 10 or 18 wheeler trucks (which is highly unlikely), the realistic number of outbound packs per hour is less than 1,000 packs.
That is one pack every 4 seconds, a rate that can easily achieved by a single assembly line consisting of only 20 people. (6 assigned to clothes segregation, 3 in rice packing, 1 assigned to soap packing, 5 people packing in series, and 5 people to restock their supplies)
And here we come to the whole point of the rant I didn’t make:
There is no reason why relief goods repacking centers with over 50 people on hand should produce inconsistent and poorly packed relief goods packs as there is enough time to introduce quality in the system.
Streamline the whole assembly line, get the extra people to do quality checks, increase the frequency of breaks… just do anything that can improve the quality of the packs. Remember that those packs are headed to flood victims: a poorly made pack can unknowingly add insult to injury.