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London 2012: Potential Logistical Challenges

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last four years, you can’t have failed to have noticed that the 2012 Olympics are taking place in London this summer! Well, it’s not just London, there are competitions taking place all over the UK, from Scotland to Cornwall, Cardiff to Manchester.
And in case you missed it, the dates are: Olympic Games – 27 July to 12 August 2012 Paralympic Games – 29 August to 9 September 2012
To put the magnitude of this event into perspective, I have collated some of the more staggering statistics:
• There are 37 competition venues across the UK, 27 of which are in London • There are going to be 10,500 athletes in London during the Olympic Games • 4,200 athletes for the Paralympic Games • There has been over 8.8 million tickets sold • 636 competition sessions across 26 sports • 21,000 accredited press and photographers
That’s in addition to the 500,000 visitors that London welcomes on an average day in the peak season. My sympathy goes out to those having to commute through London during this time!
There is no doubt that officials have gone to great lengths to minimise the impact of the Games on day-to-day London life for local businesses. ‘Keep on Running’ is a campaign they have launched just for this. There are workshop sessions available for staff of businesses in affected areas to attend in order to get a head start on travel during the Games. There is a website with a plethora of tools to help get you prepared for commuting during the Games.
To ensure the athletes and other officials are able to travel reliably during this time something called The Olympic Route Network and Paralympic Route Network (ORN and PRN) will be in operation. These are networks of roads linking all the competition and key non-competition venues, and is a method that has been used in previous Games in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and Vancouver. Although much of the ORN/PRN will be open to everyday traffic there will be some restrictions: access during peak times, potential side-road closures, suspension of parking, loading and waiting bays, restricted right-hand turns etc.
So, what do you do if your company or your role heavily relies on logistics suppliers? First things first … don’t panic! Your suppliers will have been planning for this and should have a contingency plan in place to minimise disruption to any work you do with them. But it’s worth being aware of some of the issues that they might be facing, so you can judge any impact this may have on you.
Impacts on the transport industry
Parking in London at the best of times is tricky, but with all the amendments and closures mentioned above, making deliveries or collections around affected areas of London is going to require more forethought and planning than it may have done otherwise. This particularly applies to Specialist Couriers, as we frequently deal with jobs of a timely nature, often collecting or delivering blood samples or life-saving medicines to/from our customers.
Many logistics providers have already made their contingency plans for the Olympics available, and others will release them upon request. It is important for customers to be aware of the impact the Olympics will have on their suppliers in order for them to work together to ensure minimal disruption to their operations. If you are a larger company and use a logistics provider on a daily basis, it would be worth getting in touch with them to discuss your regular shipments and gain perspective of requirements for ad-hoc shipments in and around London. Some solutions will be as simple as adjusting the collection or delivery time to something out of hours.
If you don’t have an approved supplier in place and you have the luxury of being able to pick and choose a provider for individual job requirements, then their contingency plans may make an impact on whether you choose them for a job or not. For example, it may be an idea to consider a logistics supplier outside of London, with good connections to other airports and road networks.
But it’s not just parking and traffic volume that could impact deliveries. With all these extra visitors in London, mobile networks and the internet could be running more slowly. So it may take slightly longer to download any larger documents that you or your logistics provider sends for a shipment.
The likelihood of any major issues occurring is fairly minimal, but it’s important for everyone to be aware of what potentially could happen. It brings to mind that age old mantra ‘Fail to Prepare or Prepare to Fail’.
On a brighter note: Here’s to London 2012 – The Olympic Games, The Diamond Jubilee, Wimbledon and all the other events that make it a great year to be British.