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Distributed Manufacturing in Humanitarian Logistics Operations

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Call for Papers for a special issue on
Distributed Manufacturing in Humanitarian Logistics Operations

Guest Editors: Patrick A. Hennelly (Cambridge University) & Eric James (Field Ready)

Humanitarian logistics is regarded as a ‘wicked’ issue due to the plethora and the broad nature of the challenges that affect around 300 million people on an annual basis (Tatham and Houghton, 2011). Furthermore, it is reported that global humanitarian efforts are valued at US$50 billion per year with 60% of this expenditure being attributable to procurement operations from local and international suppliers (Falasca and Zobel, 2011). Established supply chain models for providing humanitarian aid typically follow a centralised archetype with a focal manufacturing location, excessive inventories of goods in distributed depots and frequent shipments of commodities. However, such supply chain models have limited capacity in addressing critical aspects of humanitarian relief services (James, 2017). Among other challenges, these include: (i) responsiveness to the sudden and unpredictable spikes in demand for basic commodities, (ii) accessibility to remote and low-resource locations, (iii) reliability and quality assurance of the provided humanitarian supplies.

Within the discourse on humanitarian aid, Distributed Manufacturing (i.e. decentralised small production sites supported by digital applications) could be explored as a viable solution to tackle the often slow, costly and cumbersome supply chains. The capability and capacity to locally reuse available resources and remanufacture supplies enhances remote communities’ resilience and self-sufficiency towards rapid-onset disasters (Freeman et al., 2017). At a greater extent, Distributed Manufacturing solutions could leverage Industry 4.0 advancements to automate key humanitarian logistics processes and significantly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the necessary operations (Lu et al., 2016). Indicatively, Distributed Manufacturing enabled by 3-D printing and other techniques could be used to provide replacement parts. Examples include healthcare applications such as medical devices, pharmaceutical tablets and implants, or spare parts for hospital equipment, power generators and water pumps (Srai et al., 2016). Additionally, intelligent autonomous systems could be utilised for humanitarian supplies’ deliveries in remote areas, let alone search and rescue missions (Ko and Lau, 2009). In this regard, Distributed Manufacturing could use locally available, even wasted or damaged, material to valorise them and fulfil humanitarian needs.

The purpose of this special issue is to share experiences and recognise supply network designs for humanitarian logistics enabled by Distributed Manufacturing in order to tackle local manufacturing challenges in humanitarian situations. Appropriate topics for this special issue include but are not limited to:

•    New theory development to explain the adoption and use of Distributed Manufacturing in humanitarian logistics operations at the organisational and inter-organisational levels
•    Assessment of the characteristics, enablers and implications of Distributed Manufacturing on the design of future humanitarian logistics operations
•    Distributed Manufacturing - what new capabilities are required in terms of equipment, technology, systems, skills and attitudes?
•    Digitalisation of humanitarian logistics operations - challenges and opportunities for Distributed Manufacturing
•    Collaborative supply chain models and public-private partnerships for Distributed Manufacturing in humanitarian logistics
•    Assessment of how firms/NGOs create and capture business/social value through Distributed Manufacturing

Submission deadline: February 1, 2019

For questions email:
Mr. Patrick Hennelly ([email protected]) or
Dr. Eric James ([email protected])


Falasca, M. and Zobel C.W. (2011). A two-stage procurement model for humanitarian relief supply chains. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 1(2), pp. 151-169.
Freeman, R., McMahon, C. and Godfrey, P. (2017). An exploration of the potential for re-distributed manufacturing to contribute to a sustainable, resilient city. International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 10(4-5), pp. 260-271.
James, L (2017). Opportunities and challenges of distributed manufacturing for humanitarian response. IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, pp. 1-9.
Ko, A.W.Y. and Lau, H.Y.K. (2009). Intelligent robot-assisted humanitarian search and rescue system. International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, 6(2), pp. 121-128.
Lu, Q., Goh, M. and De Souza, R. (2016). A SCOR framework to measure logistics performance of humanitarian organizations. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 6(2), pp. 222-239.
Srai, J.S., Kumar, M., Graham, G., Phillips, W., Tooze, J., Ford, S., Beecher, P., Raj, B., Gregory, M., Tiwari, M.K., Ravi, B., Neely, A., Shankar, R., Charnley, F. and Tiwari, A. (2016). Distributed manufacturing: Scope, challenges and opportunities. International Journal of Production Research, 54(23), pp. 6917-6935.
Tatham, P. and Houghton, L. (2011). The wicked problem of humanitarian logistics and disaster relief aid. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 1(1), pp. 15-31.