Logistics sector unprepared for Olympics

London: Fewer than 5% of companies in the logistics sector feel ‘totally prepared’ to deal with the potential disruption presented to the supply chain by the London Olympics.

A survey by the Freight Transport Association found that, with less than a year to go, around a third of respondents claim to have ‘no knowledge’ of how the Olympic Route Network or Games Lanes will operate.

The association warns that a failure by government agencies to arm commercial vehicle operators with the information they need to keep London’s shelves stocked could mean that its businesses miss out on revenue, its residents face unacceptable disruption to their everyday lives and the enduring memories of Olympic tourists are tainted.

FTA members were asked to qualify their levels of preparedness for when London hosts what will be by far the largest sporting event in the world. Businesses that operate road freight in and out of London were asked about various elements of their Olympics preparation; including their contingency plans, the provision of additional vehicles and staff, and the preparedness of their customers for managing deliveries.

Natalie Chapman, FTA head of policy for London, says: “With around a third of industry claiming to be ‘adequately prepared’ for the Olympics and an even larger proportion claiming that they are ‘not at all prepared’, the alarm bells should be ringing for the logistics sector, businesses and all Olympic stakeholders.”

Over the three-month Olympic and Paralympic period, various access restrictions will be imposed on London’s roads during the day, making quiet night-time deliveries an eminently sensible solution to enable retailers, restaurants and other outlets to open for business for the greater volume of trade expected during the Games.

The association advocates of night time deliveries as a way to reduce transport costs, road congestion and carbon emissions. Recent trials prove that if best practice is adhered to then retailers can enjoy all the benefits of out-of-hours deliveries without causing noise disturbance to local residents, Chapman says.

“The Olympics and Paralympics should prompt more interest in the adoption of night-time deliveries, but over a third of industry is still ‘not at all prepared’ to adopt this progressive way of working, even as a temporary contingency plan.

“Clearly, industry is not feeling ready for the Olympics and this raises serious questions as to the availability of information that businesses in the sector need in order to plan ahead. The recently announced Olympic Working Group will hopefully see a stronger dialogue between Transport for London and industry so that we can all work together towards a greater understanding of what is needed to make these Olympics memorable for all the right reasons,” she says.