Chapter 6. Mobile facilities and equipment

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Equipment is an essential element of any market and this chapter contains examples (photographs, annotated drawings and sketches) of moveable facilities that might be appropriate. A broad distinction can be made between equipment that enables a trader to operate a mobile or temporary retail outlet, and other types of equipment that are used in the operation of both mobile and fixed retail facilities, such as scales.

As pointed out in Chapter 2, mobile facilities have always had a key role in the marketing of fresh produce and other household necessities. The usefulness of such facilities is to provide supplies to areas where densities are low or transport facilities for consumers are poor. An important part of their function, therefore, is to provide a social service.

Mobile facilities may range from a simple, unmotorized facility used by an individual vendor or hawker, in either a rural or urban area, to sophisticated motorised vans which operate over much of Europe. In France, nine per cent of retailing is still through such mobile outlets and in Italy they account for a significant proportion of retail trade. In the Far East (and formerly in Holland) there has been a tradition of using water transport on rivers and canals for selling produce. The floating markets of Bangkok in Thailand (now mostly for tourists) are probably the bestk-nown example. Most mobile facilities, however, use wheeled transport, the main distinction being between those which are motorized and those which are self-propelled or need to be drawn by some other form of transport, such as animals.

Facilities at periodic and street markets

Apart from use as individual mobile sales outlets, mobile facilities are also commonly used to serve the periodic markets commonly found in the centres of small towns and villages in rural areas. At one extreme, for example, are the heat bazaars in India and Nepal or the periodic markets of Africa and Latin America, held in a convenient open space and using

FIGURE 68 Site plan for mobile weekly-market facilities brought to fixed location, (market raun), Papua New Guinea

Source: Ward, R. G. et al. (1974). Growth centres and area improvement in the Eastern Highlands District. Department of Human Geograpy Australian National Universit, Canberra very rudimentary equipment. At the other extreme, are the typical weekly markets still operating in Europe where traders come fully equipped to start retailing, using display facilities and counters that can be reassembled once they are taken off a vehicle,

"Market raun"

An interesting variant of the rural periodic market is the "market raun" system developed by the Australian National University for the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. In this instance, what was proposed was the establishment of a network of permanent but low-cost periodic market sites (normally coinciding with existing informal markets and modern sector services, such as a police or medical-aid post), the operation of which would be coordinated with the provision of mobile government services, including health care, agricultural extension, banking and postal facilities, information services and vehicle maintenance.

The market raun sites were selected to be beyond the economic shadow of small towns, but close enough to be accessible by all-weather road to the market raun unit's base. The logistics of operating the unit's vehicle fleet and the limited purchasing power in the Eastern Highlands would effectively mean that the sites could only be visited on a fortnightly cycle. However, the system would be able to provide a higher level of goods and services than would normally be obtained at the traditional periodic markets. The basic layout for a market raun site is illustrated in Figure 68, with provision made for off-vehicle selling of foodstuffs, beverages, clothing, hardware and agricultural input supplies, as well as the parking of government vehicles.

Mobile periodic markets in Zimbabwe

A similar programme to market raun was developed in Zimbabwe by the Italian Department for Cooperation (FIA) for the Makoni District Communal Lands, Manicaland Province. This programme, based on the development of a network of 50 periodic markets, was designed to serve a rural population of 150,000 people spread over an area of 2,713 square kilometres. The markets would be located at rural service centres and within walking distance of the main rural communities. They would operate on a weekly or fortnightly basis. On market days, they would deliver a range of mobile services, including marketing and agricultural extension advice, health services, rural credit and community development services. Details of the personnel and equipment that would be required to run such a service are shown in Table 6.1.

TABLE 6. 1 Equipment/personnel, Zimbabwe periodic markets

Function Personnel Equipment
1. Market management and support to local marketing organizations 1 market supervisor one 5-8 ton truck
1 operator Marketing equipment
1 driver one 3-wheel vehicle
2. Basic assistance & veterinary dispensary 1 technical officer one equipped van
3. Rural credit 1 government official one equipped van
4. Postage and savings accounts 1 government official one equipped van
5. Health service 1 health official one equipped van
6. General information/entertainment 1 government official one equipped van
7. Veterinary service 1 veterinary assistant one equipped van
8. Banking services 1 bank official one equipped van
9. Handicraft promotion and assistance 1 or 2 community one equipped van
to women's development groups workers one motorcycle
10. Small enterprise promotion not defined not defined
11. Marketing of agricultural products not determined one pick-up
(Information, transport, storage, quality, etc.)   three motorcycles
12.Training of farmers 1 extension officer one motorcycle
13. Livestock marketing not defined not defined

Source: MOLlSV, Rural Services and Periodic Markets in Zimbabwe, FM, 1990.

Motorised retail outlets

Typical motorized mobile facilities are illustrated in Figures 69 - 71. These facilities could be operated by an individual trader involved with door-to-door selling, but equally are likely to be found in markets. The products sold in motorized outlets are usually fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, cooked meat, cheeses and flowers.

Although such motorized outlets involve comparatively high capital investment and operating costs, they can allow a relatively large volume of sales and an above-average quality of produce. The level of mobility they provide can permit them to serve an extensive area, such as a number of rural centres or the suburbs of a city. The only real disadvantage of mobile facilities is the potential traffic hazard they cause, but this is not a problem if proper parking provision is made.

A wide range of mobile facilities is used throughout the world, varying from light vehicles, such as vans, to heavy ones, like lorries and buses. Vans generally belong to retailers, who usually purchase their products in a wholesale market or from a town's market garden area. Lorries often belong to wholesalers - transporting produce from rural areas to the cities and using the lorry as a temporary retail outlet.

Other transport variants are redundant buses, which can be fitted out at a relatively low cost as self-service outlets, substituting the seats with display units. Such a converted bus is shown in Figure 69. Purpose-built trailers may be also be equipped with shelves and an exit door for self service operation and are suitable for general foodstuffs, combined with fruits and vegetables.

For the retailing of meat and fish, the vehicles should be thermally insulated and, ideally, be refrigerated. Figure 70 illustrates a small van suitable for meat and fish sales using chill cabinets for produce display and with lift-up sides providing protection for the produce and shelter for customers. When these are located in urban markets a mains electrical connection is often possible. Figure 71 shows a larger refrigerated truck where, as the doors cannot be kept open during retailing operations, a covered demountable retail stall has been provided beside the truck.

FIGURE 70. Van for meat and fish sales

Source: FAO (illustration by Jean-Michel Ambrosino)
A. lift-up sides to provide additional protection to produce
B. produce displayed for sale C. price boards
D. weighing scales and cash till E. cutting board

FIGURE 71. Fishmonger's or butcher's refrigerated truck

Source: FAO (illustration by Jean-Michel Ambrosino)
A. produce displayed on trestle tables
B. canvas awning to provide protection from rain and sun
C. weighing scales
D. cutting board

Unmotorised retail outlets

The typical unmotorized retail outlet is one operating from a cart, barrow or bicycle. Such facilities are low cost and have low running costs. They are most suitable for door-to-door sales, often for the sale of a limited range of fruits and vegetables, sometimes by the original producer. They are also found on the periphery of both rural and urban street markets where they are used for the sale of more specialized products such as eggs, poultry, fish and bread. The main limitation of these facilities is that they offer only limited protection to produce, although it is possible to improve their design so as to minimize produce losses. Figure 72 illustrates such an improved facility for the sale of fish, using a bicycle to tow an insulated storage box.

A variant of the unmotorized outlet is the wheeled stall or barrow, found in many markets throughout the world. As illustrated in Figure 73, such stalls can have a wide variety of designs, ranging from the simple barrow with a demountable roof, to the fully-enclosed mobile kiosk which can be towed to the market site by vehicle or animal power. The design of these elements is discussed in more detail later in this chapter.

FIGURE 72. Three-wheel trailer for the sale of fish

Source: FAO (illustration by Jean-Michel Ambrosino)
A. display with 3 cm upstand to prevent produce falling
B. weighing scales
C. umbrella to protect fish during sale
D. insulated and airtight box for storage of fish on shelves

Awnings and umbrellas

Typical of many urban and rural street markets are the canvas awnings or tent-like structures which provide shelter and reduce glare for the market sellers as well as customers. The "tolodos" used in Spain, which usually span the entire street, are typical examples of canvas awnings. The canvas can be rolled back on overcast days and retractable mechanisms may be appropriate in some instances. The traditional Italian form of shade structure is a large umbrella which can be easily collapsed for transportation. These are now found throughout the world. A conventional beach umbrella is often adapted for the purpose. Figure 74 illustrates the use of umbrellas to expand the sales area of a rural market in Thailand. A more modern way of providing shade is by using a tension structure, usually with a single central pole and guy ropes or cables.

Prefabricated market stalls and barrows

A common element of many market development programmes is the use of prefabricated stalls and barrows. This has the advantage that the stalls can be manufactured off-site and after use can be moved around, for example for cleaning, or even moved to another market. The stalls can be for an individual trader or for a pair of traders or, less commonly, for three or four traders. The typical sales or table area per trader would be in the range of 0.8 to 1.2 square metres.

The most common materials used for manufacturing the stalls are steel or timber or a combination of these materials. Figure 75 shows a rather over-elaborate stall design in pressed-sheet steel, in contrast to Figure 76 which uses the same material in a more functional manner. In the latter case. the stalls incorporate a roof integral storage. an upstand rail to prevent produce slipping off the sales area and a small shelf at a lower level convenient for shoppers to place their bags. For colder climates, or where it is necessary to provide a greater level of security for the trader's goods, the stall can be constructed as a kiosk which will provide a complete enclosure (i.e. with a roof and walls).

FIGURE 73. Typical mobile and demountable facilities for selling fresh food and flowers in Denmark

Source: Salodin, E. (undated). Wanderings in Copenhagen. Carit Anderson Publishers, Copenhagen.

Mobile barrows are another form of sales facility common in street markets in the USA, Britain and South-East Asia. The main advantage they offer is that both the barrow and produce can be taken away from the market site after business hours, thus offering greater security. The corollary of this is that their use requires that garaging facilities for the barrows are provided at a convenient location and at an affordable rent.

Figure 77 .Illustrates a simple two-wheeled barrow with a shelf underneath in which produce can be stored. A model frequently used in Indonesia, for example is a fully enclosed timber box with four wheels and lift-up flaps on top to obtain, access to the stored produce. Poorer vendors often sleep on top of their barrows. A variant common in London is a barrow with side access for storage and with a stepped top so that produce can be more effectively displayed and a roof formed from lift-up flaps. Figure 78 shows a simple non-mobile stall, with a sloping top for better produce display, usually from boxes.

In laying out the market pitches in a street market it is important to take account of the dimensions of the commonest form of stalls and barrows. Most barrows are arranged with their longest dimension parallel to the street. In the case of the usual form of Chinese barrow, which is either pushed or towed by bicycle (illustrated in Chapter I - Figure 7), the barrows are normally arranged end-on to the street.

Trestle tables and display stands

The simplest form of sales space in street markets is the trestle table. These are sometimes available ready-made (for example as foldable painters' tables) although they tend to be not robust enough to stand the heavy wear that will occur in most markets. Figure 79 illustrates a purpose-built vendor's table constructed in local timber and suitable for the sale of fruits and vegetables. This was developed in the Eastern Caribbean as part of a market improvement project.

Covered markets and small shops, where there is wall space available, allow the use of a tiered form of display stand as shown in Figure 80. The sale of fish, meat, dairy products and cooked foods requires that the surface of such tables can be easily cleaned. Figure 81 shows a rudimentary form of table used for fish sales in Nepal with a metal top to the table. Zinc sheet is used in this case and aluminium is also common, but stainless steel would be the most appropriate. For gutting and boning, a separate chopping block or table should be used. Figure 82 shows sea food displayed on a folding bench, lined with plastic-sheet, and shaded by an umbrella. In the background of the photograph is an insulated fishmonger's van and to the left a metal-topped trestle table. Similar folding benches are used for the sale of cheeses and other dairy products in French and British markets.

Both covered markets and open sheds are often provided with fixed stalls formed from permanent materials, such as concrete or masonry. The components for these can be prefabricated off-site so that a higher standard of finish is obtained. The design for such a stall, suitable for the sale of meat or fish, is shown in Figure 83.

Other market equipment

Retail markets, even when they are the central market of a city, are not like wholesale markets, where sophisticated equipment such as fork-lift trucks for produce handling on pallets, may be justifiable. Other than weighing facilities, most rural and urban retail markets will only have very limited equipment.

FIGURE 77. Barrow for the sale of fruits and vegetables

Source: FAO (illustration by Jean-Michel Ambrosino)
A. display with 3 cm upstand to prevent produce falling
B. produce displayed for sale
C. umbrella to protect produce
D. weighing scales
E. wet sacking to cover produce
F. water for dampening produce
G. storage of produce

Weighing equipment

The types of weighing equipment that are commonly used in retail markets are:

FIGURE 78. Simple stall for the sale of fruits, vegetables and spices

Source: FAO (illustration by Jeun-Michel Ambrosino)
A. wooden tray supported on steel or timber frame (length 1.2-1.5 metres, width 0.7-0.8 metres, height to tray 0.8 metres)
B. display with 3 cm upstand to prevent produce falling
C. canvas awning to provide protection from rain and sun

FIGURE 79. Details of vendor's 0.9 x1.5 metre folding trestle table in timber construction, Eastern Caribbean

Source: FAO

Produce handling

For street markets, produce is usually unloaded directly adjacent to the stall or barrow and manual handling methods are normally all that is required. However, developments in packaging methods, resulting from changes on the farm or from changes at a central wholesale market do have an impact, particularly on the marketing practices adopted in the periodic markets in Western Europe.

FIGURE 80. Typical fruit and vegetable display stand for covered market or small shop

Source: FAO (illustration by Jean-Michel Ambrosino)

It is not uncommon in France, for example, for the traders at their stores to stack their produce (typically boxed tropical fruits and cut flowers) directly on display stands equipped with wheeled bases and then load the stands onto their truck by using a hydraulic platform fitted to the vehicle. When they arrive at the market, they simply reverse the process and the produce is unloaded and immediately ready for sale on the display stands.

When produce has to be brought into a market where the parking areas are remote, or into an enclosed market building, some form of trolley or cart system is usually adopted to reduce the dependence on porters. This necessitates ramped access to the market. The range of loads that such trolleys can accommodate is wide, but loads of half to one tonne are normal. Smaller trolleys and carts are sometimes used if a porterage facility is available for handling produce which has already been purchased and needs to be transported to a customer's vehicle (or in some cases, delivered directly to his or her home). For example, although produce can be brought in by road, a large proportion of produce leaving Zanzibar's Stone Town Market is delivered by porters,, as car access into the town's narrow lanes is not possible.

Cool storage

In some circumstances, particularly in covered retail markets handling fresh meat, poultry and fish, the use of cool stores is appropriate. Care should be taken to ensure that such facilities are not too large and that they can be run on a self-financing basis. Ideally, these stores should be the property of the traders themselves (e.g. an individual butcher or fishmonger) and come under their direct management. A possible way of accommodating cool storage is to make provision for electrical outlets on a metered supply where the trader can plug in a small-scale domestic refrigerator or freezer. However, care should be taken that no CFC leakages are occuring from the refrigerating equipment.

Solid waste collection

The collection and disposal of solid waste from the market always needs special consideration. Poor solid waste management measures (including site cleansing) can result in a build up of refuse and rodent/insect infestation. Solid waste at most retail markets is mostly organic and sophisticated disposal systems using, for example, on-site compactors are generally not financially viable. Recycling and composting, involving the separation of organic and non-organic elements, is usually better organized as a centralized facility serving more than just markets. Alternative methods of off-site waste disposal could be investigated, such as the use of organic waste as compost and the recycling of non-organic waste by small entrepreneurs.

The method often adopted for the organization of solid waste in markets is to arrange for it to be taken (by cleaners and/or the traders themselves) to a central location, such as a walled enclosure, from where it is re-loaded onto refuse collection vehicles. It is usually very difficult to keep these facilities clean, particularly as the refuse is double-handled.

A more satisfactory method is the use of a container (skip) system, using receptacles manufactured from sheet steel, which are relatively easy to clean. Skips can be as small as 2 to 3 m, but the normal standard skip holds around 7 m of vegetable waste. A market with an annual throughput of 10,000 tons (i.e. around 28 tons per day) would produce a daily amount of solid waste of around 1.4 tons, requiring a daily skip collection service. For more detailed calculations of rates of solid waste generation see Chapters 13 and 14 of the Wholesale Markets: Planning and Design Guide (FAO, 1991).

The use of skips does not always require a special collection vehicle. For example, Maseru City Council in Lesotho, has arranged its commercial and industrial solid waste collection using skips of 6.2 m capacity, with doublehinged doors on either side (to prevent flies and rodents entering the skip) and with a top-hinged tailgate for easy discharge. The skips are transported to the disposal site using a tractor linked to a tippable chassis on which the skip is transported.

FIGURE 83. Prefabricated concrete stall for the sale of meat and fish, with overhead hanging rail

Source: Author


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