From factories to hospitals: The journey of emergency supplies during a pandemic
Aug 30, 2020

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) in June 2020 was faced with the challenging task of delivering urgently needed personnel protective equipment (PPEs) to member countries in Southeast, East, Central, and West Asia, at a time when travel and transport restrictions were at their most severe.

The COVID-19 crisis had created capacity constraints across the supply chain, and the task of transporting these goods presented a major challenge.

As no single carrier has the right footprint across such a vast array of destinations, ADB’s Procurement, Portfolio, and Financial Management Department (PPFD) undertook market research, followed by a competitive tendering process with multiple pre-qualified international freight forwarding firms.

These organizations, with access to sea, road, rail, and air transport networks, were in an optimal position to assist ADB in developing an appropriate logistics strategy that addressed the delivery needs of each developing member countries’ healthcare system, while also having the breadth of resources and support platforms across the region to deliver in a timely manner. They complement this with the capacity to undertake quality assurance and control, prior to acceptance of the goods for shipment.

Kuehne+Nagel was selected as ADB’s freight forwarder for this important mission. Led by its Humanitarian Logistics Division in Copenhagen, Kuehne+Nagel performed the role of ADB’s "Supply Chain Control Tower"—coordinating all of the necessary inspection, consolidation, loading, and shipping services to ensure goods reach the right place at the right time. The team in Copenhagen performed this critical role of engaging its network of country offices, agents, and subcontractors to assure quality inspections and multi-modal deliveries across this vast geography.

As a logistics partner for over 20 years to the United Nations, Kuehne+Nagel brought significant expertise, offering unique solutions to enable fast delivery, while also providing value for money for ADB recipients.

For example, being mountainous and landlocked, Afghanistan is a difficult country from a logistics perspective. These challenges have been further exacerbated by COVID-19 related border closures on traditional overland routes. Afghanistan is one of the largest recipients of goods under ADB’s $48.3 million Technical Assistance (TA) on Regional Support to Address the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019. Kuehne+Nagel developed a multi-modal delivery solution for Afghanistan that involves ocean freight into the United Arab Emirates with reloading onto cargo planes into Kabul.

This "air bridge" leverages existing sea freight routes from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into the Middle East, while offering fast and reliable air delivery for the final leg of the journey into Kabul. This is just one of the many ways ADB has been able to support even the most remote countries during the pandemic.

With recipients spread across each corner of the continent, capacity constraints in the transport sector, and a myriad of differing import requirements and protocols, flexible planning is an integral part of this successful endeavour.

PPFD's Procurement Specialist Luke Fochtman, commented: "Even in the best of times, some of the recipient destinations in Central and West Asia are challenging to reach due to their remote nature, terrain, and distance. Operating in the midst of a global pandemic makes such a job that much more difficult, yet with the the right planning and strategy anything is possible."