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Olympic Logistics Interview


merchandis- ing anything you can


utilise in the venue apart from the


catering, clean- ing or waste.


SHD: How does this compare to your core business?


AW: The services we provide are split between core and non-core services. Core services are the things we do in our day- to-day legacy business, such warehousing, distribution, freight forwarding – be it air or ocean – couriers, packages, etc. The non-core services are venue logistics, the athlete’s village logistics, torch relay logistics, medal logistics, anti-doping, the athletes’ bags when they come into Heathrow... When we started planning, we made a lot of assumptions about a lot of things. Some of those assumptions about processes, policies and procedures have been fantastic and worked, and others haven’t. For example, as a logistics provider we would normally make a delivery where we have a dock or other recognised place to deliver onto. At some of these venues – for example when we deliver the floor of the basketball court [to the Basketball Arena] – there’s no dock and no forklift to lift it off and get it into the arena. It’s basically outside in the open air. You can come up with a plan that tells you


everything you need to make it happen, but one thing you can’t plan on is the weather. As it happened with the basketball test event, it didn’t stop raining for a long time, which can impact the timeline. It’s something which, when you think about it, looks really obvious, but you have to build it into your plans. You can plan on what you know, and you can plan on what you don’t know, but, to quote Donald Rumsfeld, there are also the “un- known unknowns”. We’ve had a few of those in this project. For example, we now have a contingency which covers the ash cloud. Last August, during our peak week of


the year for sports logistics when we were bumping-in and bumping-out test events all week, the riots went on and we had to change our plans a huge amount. But we got through that, and in our plans for this summer, we now have a section which will deal with riots. The biggest impact of the riots was to the road cycle race. On the Friday lunchtime before the race, when 160km of barriers


provide 100% service – it will be 99.5%, or 99-point-whatever you and the customer agree. Olympic logistics is a temporary supply chain, so trying to deliver 100% service on a temporary supply chain [is our biggest chal- lenge]. If Usain Bolt wins his 100 metre gold and there’s no medal to collect, no flowers, or no podium, it could be that we haven’t delivered and there’ll be a global audience knowing that we’ve made a mistake. There-


Testing times: UPS delivered at the test events at ExCeL.


were being deployed by the side of the road, the police said they had to be chained together because they saw them as potential weapons for rioters. When we were told this, we procured 4km of marine chain, put it on a UPS truck and brought it down to a warehouse in Tilbury. On Friday night, we got a crew in to cut 4km of chain into 4m lengths. On Saturday we had other crews going out to chain up big clusters of barriers. We bought every padlock in the south-east of England! We finished fairly late Saturday night. Sunday morning, when the barriers had to be put across road junctions, we had another crew going out cutting chains and padlocks and setting up the barriers. During the race, the police said everything had to be up by close of play Sunday, whereas we’d planned to lift the barriers by Monday morning. We then got the guys who’d just worked 24 hours to get out of bed to pick them all up, and fin- ished by about 11 o’clock Sunday night.


SHD: What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge?


AW: We’ve been around 104 years and we have a global supply chain which we’re tweaking every day, week, month, year to make it more efficient and more stable. With most supply chains, you’ll never be able to


www.shdlogistics.com


fore we can’t make a mistake. On a tempo- rary supply chain, that’s quite a challenge. Another thing is that it’s an unmovable deadline – it will start on 27th July. With a lot of logistics programmes, there’s always some slippage, but with the Games there is no second chance. You have to deliver on time.


SHD: What learnings can UPS take away from London 2012?


AW: For our core business, we will have a skillset that is unique that can apply to all kinds of different logistics. That analogy about turning a venue upside down works well, and really helps to explain event logistics. Whether it’s a band doing a global tour, or an outside broadcast, it’s the same concept. One of our brand ambassadors, [sports TV presenter] Steve Rider, has learned all about what we do, and he now talks about broadcasting logistics. Whenever there’s an outside broad- cast, there’s a huge amount of kit that needs to be moved, set up, tested and working in a very short space of time. Steve said he was involved in logistics, but he never really knew it. You’d be amazed how many industries actually rely on temporary supply chains. The knowledge we have and the IP on the processes, procedures, and the IT systems will be invaluable for us as we move forward. n


www.ups.com Storage Handling Distribution April 2012 19


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