I first heard London transport commissioner Peter Hendy talk about the transport arrangements for the Olympic Games many months ago. He was very laid back, pointing out that if there was a big queue for the tube then you could always go and have a beer.
Endearingly, keeping the beer flowing appears to have figured strongly in Hendy’s public pronouncements on logistics during the games. And it is very clear that the industry has delivered. “I’ve been tremendously impressed with the response from both businesses and the freight and distribution industry,” said Hendy, as the games came to a close.
“Their planning has ensured that London’s restaurants, bars and businesses have had bread in their shops and beer in their pumps, and we thank them for the way they have responded to the Olympic-sized challenge.”
This focus on beer might appear to be a trivial interpretation of the industry’s achievements. After all, London saw a massive influx of people which could have brought the city to a standstill. Good planning and some innovative delivery strategies ensured the success of the games. Some companies have employed joggers, while others decided that it would be roller-bladers that would always get through. As Johanna Parsons highlights in her analysis “Winning logistics” on page 10, one of the real achievements has been the co-ordination of the various control authorities – police, transport and so on.
It is also worth pointing out that Transport for London sees its main purpose in life as managing the public transport network – not freight. And it if takes a drop of ale to generate enthusiasm for logistics at City Hall, then roll out the barrel.
Logistics struggles for recognition in the wider world – what people tend to notice are huge warehouses and noisy trucks. Reminding them that without it, there would be no beer puts that into perspective.
Clearly, there is an opportunity for the industry to raise its profile on the back of the success of the Olympics. But first it’s time for a pat on the back: have a beer.
Malory Davies FCILT,