However the implications of this event on the way logistics & supply chains operate is significant.
For Central London at “steady state” deliveries and collections make up 17% of the traffic rising to 25% of journeys from Monday to Friday. This equates to 281,000 freight journeys delivering goods including food and retail items. The Olympics requires an additional 1 million items of sports equipment and 250,000 items of luggage to be moved and managed. We then need to consider feeding the additional people, providing excellent “retail therapy” for visitors and of course providing somewhere for people to sleep!
Logistics can be defined as “the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving people, facilities and supplies”. The complexity of the Olympics Logistics operation is the responsibility of UPS, the official Logistics partner, it has been involved, for example, in moving 10500 beds sourced in china and Malaysia through the supply chain, has secured 80,000 square meters of warehousing space to accommodate the demands of the Olympics. UPS have the unenviable task of managing the “last mile” into the Olympic venues. Loads are brought into warehouses, unloaded and checked, everything is X rayed for security purposes before being loaded onto vehicles to be sent into the venues. But what goes into the venues also needs to come out! So the Olympics decommissioning is also a significant challenge involving retrieval, return to warehouses and finally disposal.
In order to ensure the efficient flows of people and goods considerable analysis and planning has taken place. As the games commence two goals need to be achieved: Provide an excellent Olympics experience for everyone but also keep London and the UK moving so business can continue as usual. The chance of “grid lock” occurring within London at the time of the games is very small. London’s transport systems are well suited to coping with the additional demands of the Olympics. In “steady state” 1.1 billion tube journeys per year take place which is comparable to all the journeys on the rest of the UK’s rail network. Half of all bus journeys in England take place in London. The London transport system is relatively resilient with different modes being available. However with such a surge in demand plans are in place to ensure smooth flows of goods and people. An “Olympic Route Network” is being implemented which is effectively a “mass transit” corridor to serve the Olympics. London has a road network of 9200 miles, the Olympic Route Network consists of a total of 109 miles (1% of the total) stretching across London which can be used by the vast majority of vehicles but mainly buses and large vehicles with only 30 miles of “Games Lanes” dedicated to athletes, officials and special traffic. So by reserving 0.3% of the network for the games it is anticipated this will actually reduce the pressure on the rest of the network and therefore make movements faster for everything.
Extensive logistics modelling has been undertaken to identify the pressures on the road and transport networks during the games. This modelling looks at 30 minute time windows, 24 hours a day for each day of the Olympic festival; this identifies potential “Hot Spots” in the network enabling these to be avoided at certain times. This data is being made readily available to all via websites. The models and simulations take into account previous data and run scenarios. For example, it is known that school holidays reduce demand by 10% and when other major events in London take place different modes of transport are utilised so typically a 20% reduction in road traffic may occur. The modelling has identified that 70% of Central London will be unaffected during the games.
All businesses need to plan to ensure “business as usual” can continue. When considering the movement of goods, deliveries and collections the moto of: “Reduce, Re-route, Re-Time and Revise Mode” has been developed.
Reduce – Where possible consolidate and join multiple orders into a single delivery to reduce journeys. Why not collaborate and coordinate with neighbouring business to share deliveries? This will also reduce individual organisations costs and the amount of CO2 created saving money.
Re-Route – By identifying the traffic hot spots using the feely available planning tool identify if it is appropriate to re-route deliveries perhaps using different depots to supply from or perhaps different suppliers. This will save time and CO2.
Re-Time – Arrange out of hours deliveries when roads are quieter, plan to receive deliveries outside the busiest times. But also ask what can be supplied before the games or even after! Stock up on non-perishable items in advance of games and carry out preventative maintenance of vehicles and other resources in advance of games to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Revise-Mode – Where possible look to use different transport and delivery modes, try cycling or walking couriers for small deliveries. Use “driver’s mates” to minimise drop off parking by enabling them to “jump out” and deliver. Use secure drop boxes for smaller items. This potentially can save further time, costs and CO2.
These actions may provide a surprising legacy from the games, it is forcing all in logistics and transport to innovate. The “burning platform” generated by this event may have lasting impact by reducing costs and increasing sustainability of transport operations for years to come.
It is critical however to have action plans in place, it is also critical to test them before the games. In marketing the “Four P’s” are seen as critical “Product, Price, Place. Promotion and People”. In logistics however the “Five P’s” are required and stand for “Perfect Planning Prevents Pathetic Performance”!