There is a lot riding on London's public transport during the Olympics
The Olympic Route Network includes 30 miles of 'Games lanes'
Deliveries of goods for the games will make up 25 per cent of all central London traffic during weekdays
The four Rs - Reduce, reroute, retime and revise
Planning and preparation is key to keeping congestion down during the Games
Logistics may not grab all the Olympic headlines but without this most prosaic of disciplines the Games would grind to a halt.
It does not carry the glamour that surrounds much of the Olympic Games but the logistics, getting the right things in the right place at the right time, are vital to the success of the event. Concession stands without food and drink, athletes without kit and equipment and even medal ceremonies without the medals; that’s the scenario officials would be facing without a logistics strategy that can deliver the vast volume of goods.
The Olympic Games will be Britain’s largest peacetime logistical exercise. To put the operation into perspective, it is the equivalent to running 26 simultaneous sporting world championships.
Drilling down into the figures, there will be nine million spectators attending the Games and 300,000 athletes, officials, media and workforce will also be in attendance. London tourism chiefs are anticipating 500,000 people will be looking to stay in London during the three-month period the Games are running.
“The implications of the Games on logistics will be significant,” Richard Wilding, professor of supply chain strategy at Cranfield University, explains. “For central London, ‘steady state’ deliveries and collections make up 17 per cent of the traffic rising to 25 per cent of journeys from Monday to Friday.
“This equates to 281,000 freight journeys delivering goods. The Olympics will require an additional one million items of sports equipment and 250,000 items of luggage to be moved and managed. You then need to consider feeding and housing all of the additional people.”
The complexity of the Olympics logistics operation is the responsibility of UPS, the official logistics partner of the Games. UPS has moved 10,500 beds sourced in China and Malaysia through the supply chain and has secured 80,000 square metres of warehousing space to accommodate the demands of the Olympics. They have the unenviable task of managing the ‘last mile’ into the Olympic venues. Loads are brought into warehouses, unloaded, checked and X-rayed for security purposes before being loaded onto vehicles to be sent into the venues.
It is not just the volume of goods but the product mix. There are the Olympic special items such as food, drink and souvenirs, but other retailers need to cater for a different demographic of customer. “Even big retailers are having a look at the profile of the products they are holding in stores which are local to the Olympic venue,” Wilding says. “For example Boots is probably going to have to carry slightly different items within the branches during the Olympics depending on what’s actually going on.
“It is right down to a level of having to profile what’s in the stores that will change. It’s a different market that will be occurring over the period of the Olympics, which means you need different goods and products in that situation.”
In order to ensure efficient flows of people and goods, considerable analysis and planning has to take place. As the Games begin, two goals need to be achieved: provide an excellent Olympics experience for everyone; and keep London and the UK moving so business can continue as usual.
The chance of gridlock occurring within London at the time of the Games is very small. London’s transport systems are well used to high volumes of traffic. Over one 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. 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 9,200 miles, the Olympic Route Network consists of a total of 109 miles (1 per cent of the total) stretching across London which can be used by the vast majority of vehicles, but mainly buses and large vehicles. There are only 30 miles of Games lanes dedicated to athletes, officials and special traffic. By reserving 0.3 per cent 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 everyone.
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 Olympics. This identifies potential ‘hot spots’ in the network enabling them to be avoided at certain times. This data is being made readily available 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 per cent and when other major events in London take place different modes of transport are used, so typically a 20 per cent reduction in road traffic may occur. The modelling has identified that 70 per cent of central London will be unaffected during the Games.
“I’m confident that things are going to go pretty well,” Wilding says. “Looking at some of the potential scenario planning and modelling that’s been undertaken you come to the conclusion that the transport system is reasonably resilient. If one particular channel gets disrupted there are other channels that come into play.
“Our big concern is our whole system will be operating at capacity, and when you have a disruption when something’s operating at capacity you don’t have much to play around with. But with all the work that has been undertaken through the work of members of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport who have been very active... in the transport size and the logistic side, we are in a very, very strong position I’m pretty confident.”
Wilding adds: “Businesses need to plan to ensure ‘business as usual’ can continue. When considering the movement of goods, deliveries and collections the motto of: ‘Reduce, Reroute, Retime and Revise mode’ has been developed.”
These actions may provide a surprising legacy from the Games, forcing the logistics and transport industry to innovate. Changes to the industry generated by this event may have a lasting impact by reducing costs and increasing the sustainability of transport operations for years to come.
“There are restrictions on certain routes you can travel down, which means you’re going to have to think about delivering at different times and optimising at different times,” Wilding explains. “The big thing about this in terms of the legacy is when you start to look at the things people are being encouraged to do through this mantra of Reduce, Reroute, Retime and Revise.
“What that is actually getting people to do is work in a more collaborative way. By putting these things in place, it can actually be better in terms of timings, better in terms of cost and better in terms of CO2.”
It appears on the face of it to be a win-win situation for retailers; collaboration that is well overdue. “People have not had an appetite to do this in the past, but now in a way the burning platform has been created and they are having to look at new ways of working,” Wilding says. “Some of the new ways that have been tried out for the Olympics are foundations for things that could happen in the future and when people realise it can be done they might start picking up on these things and doing them more regularly.”
One of the main concepts being used is ‘horizontal collaboration’, which is where retailers collaborate with competitors in order to move products into a particular location.
“You might have a group of stores together and some of those stores might be competitors to you, but what you’re saying is we will share our lorry to bring goods in rather than us having our own lorry or transport,” Wilding says. “It’ll save CO2 it will probably enable us to get a better time slot. That type of thing is already starting to happen.”
Retiming is forcing people to think about scheduling deliveries at different times of the day and night. Local authorities have rules that say you may not be able to deliver at certain times of the day and night because of noise restrictions, but there is no proof about the noise levels of these particular activities, they are just blanket-banned.
“Because there are exemptions in place for the Olympics, what we may find when we do this is it isn’t as noisy as people think and therefore it is more acceptable,” Wilding adds. “If it becomes more acceptable, that means we can reduce the amount of traffic congestion for the whole community during the daytime, because some of the other goods and products can be moved at night rather than during the day, which would actually benefit local residents.
“These things are being tested to some degree. I think that’s going to be interesting to see how that works. It’s a pilot to see if these types of approaches can operate at other times, but we have been forced into working this way during this period, which is good news. Generally most organisations don’t like change, of course, and this is something that has created that burning platform to change.”
By adopting the model of one logistics supplier the London 2012 organising committee has put in place a strategy than many experts believe is the model to help reduce congestion in our cities - another unheralded legacy that these games may leave. “Some cities have told us to do this - have one central hub and have single providers providing into that city to help reduce congestion is the way forward,” Wilding says. “That is something that is already going on around the world with some cities already having discussions about doing things like that.”
The plan would be that all goods for all retailers would be delivered to a particular consolidation centre and then the cargo would be delivered on at an appropriate time. There would, of course, need to be some flexibility from retailers but with everything consolidated it would reduce the number of movements and the amount of classic congestion in that environment.
Fewer goods vehicles on the roads of our major cities would be a fitting legacy remembered long after the sporting exploits are consigned to the history books.
The four Rs
* 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 organisation costs and the amount of CO2 created, saving money.
* Reroute – By identifying the traffic hotspots using the freely available planning tool, identify if it is appropriate to reroute deliveries perhaps using different depots to supply from or perhaps different suppliers. This will save time and CO2.
* Retime – 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 and carry out preventative maintenance of vehicles and other resources to ensure everything runs smoothly.
* Revise – 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.
|To start a discussion topic about this article, please log in or register.|
"Is augmented reality the next big thing or a marketing gimmick? Is it fundamental to the future or a fashion faux pas?"
- Circuit Breaker [07:36 am 22/05/13]
- Sellafield MOX Plant Lessons Learned [10:02 pm 21/05/13]
- Philips 8051 assembler [09:53 pm 21/05/13]
- Isolation for repair of transformer feeder [08:46 pm 21/05/13]
- The Energy Bill and What is an Investment Contract [07:30 pm 21/05/13]
Tune into our latest podcast