As the logistics provider for the upcoming London games, Big Brown faces an Olympic-size challenge
When you’re the official logistics provider for the 2012 London Olympics, you can’t be late or deliver training dummies instead of basketballs. Everything has to be perfect. After all, the games could cost more than $15 billion to stage, and 4 billion television viewers will tune in worldwide.
The scale of everything connected to the Olympics is enormous, and nothing more so than the logistics challenges. UPS, as the Olympics’ official logistics provider, is responsible for getting more than 30 million items to the right place at the right time for more than 14,000 athletes, 21,000 media representatives and nearly 1 million visitors at 36 competition venues across the U.K.
“The Olympics is the biggest peacetime logistics event in the world,” said Alan Williams, UPS director of London 2012 sponsorship and operations.
UPS was announced as the Olympics’ official logistics provider in November 2009 after previously sponsoring the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and the 2008 Games in Beijing. The London Olympics runs from July 27 to Aug. 12 and the Paralympic Games from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9.
UPS drivers, like London’s 7.5 million residents, will have to cope with onerous traffic restrictions and road congestion that some predict could be as epic as the games themselves.
To supply the Athletes Village, where more than 16,000 athletes and officials will stay, UPS will handle 16,000 beds, 21,000 pillows, 15,000 computers, 11,000 sofas and 250,000 pieces of luggage, among other items, from some 200 countries. More than 1 million pieces of sporting equipment must be delivered to Olympic venues, including 2,700 footballs, 6,000 archery targets, 120 head protectors, 356 pairs of boxing gloves and 99 training dummies for wrestling.
UPS also will handle 400 tons of television broadcast equipment and 5,000 biological samples for anti-doping screening for athletes and horses.
Three peaks in logistics activity are expected over the course of the games, Williams said. The first occurred prior to the opening ceremony in mid-July when inventory was positioned for the start of the games. The second peak will occur at the beginning of the Paralympics on Aug. 29. The third peak begins after the closing ceremony on Sept. 12 and continues through the end of the year.
“We have until the end of the year to complete cleanup and reverse logistics operations,” Williams said. “We will work with the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games on the disposition of the inventory.”
As a dress rehearsal, LOCOG created the London Prepares series, a program in which 44 test events were staged over 183 days between May 2011 and May 2012. UPS teams were able to test IT systems, warehouse operations and processes and procedures for every sport and venue.
UPS’s global reach is a big factor in providing seamless logistics for the games. Most of the furniture for the 2,818 apartments in Athletes Village was shipped by ocean from Malaysia and China to a 550,000-square-foot UPS warehouse at the Port of Tilbury, 23 miles from the Olympic Park.
“One of the reasons we selected UPS as part of the end-to-end solution process is they have the opportunity to use consolidated warehouses in China and Malaysia,” said Paul Ramler, managing director of Ramler Furniture UK, which is providing procurement and project management services to the games. “We are moving about 750,000 bits of stuff from all around the world into London.”
The Tilbury facility also handles sports equipment and houses UPS’s Logistics Coordination Center. A second UPS warehouse dedicated to the Olympics is in Stevenage, 52 miles from the Olympic Park. The 330,000-square-foot Stevenage facility contains technology equipment, fixtures, equipment and merchandise.
UPS is relying on its Quantum View technology system to give its teams the ability to see, track and manage all shipments and is using sophisticated tracking delivery devices with built-in bar code scanning and GPS capabilities. UPS will have an operational presence at every event, venue and hotel connected to the games.
The Olympics provides an opportunity for UPS to showcase some of its green logistics practices. Ten dual-fuel biomethane diesel vehicles, which run on energy produced from organic waste, have been added to its Olympics fleet. The company plans to make extensive use of bicycles and foot deliveries, and will transport containers from its warehouse at the Port of Tilbury via barges on the River Thames.
As the games approach, some are predicting gridlock on London’s central roadways. Repair work to the M4, a key route between London and Heathrow Airport, in mid-July led to 15-mile queues on alternate highways and gridlock on secondary roads.
About 30 miles of London roadways will be reserved for the exclusive use of Olympic officials, athletes, sponsors and news media. The roads are part of a 109-mile London “Olympic Route Network” that links competition venues with key sites such as Heathrow Airport. Activities such as parking, turning, unloading or boarding a bus will be curtailed or banned along the route.
As part of its extensive planning and commitment to on-time deliveries, UPS will operate round-the-clock for the duration of the games, running replenishment operations between midnight and 5 a.m. UPS vehicles are permitted to use the dedicated traffic lanes for deliveries to Olympic venues.
“We are confident that we will deliver,” Williams said. “We have extensive contingencies in place for any scenario.”
Contact David Biederman at email@example.com.