Olympics lessons for the supply chain

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Anyone who has lived or worked in an Olympic city will know just what a dramatic impact the games have on every day life. It’s a lesson that we are rapidly learning in London.

It’s not just the influx of visitors – or even the appearance of “games lanes” – sections of the road network reserved for Olympic traffic. It’s the less obvious factors that are having a significant impact on logistics within the capital – notably the re-phasing of traffic lights to smooth traffic flow to and from the Olympic park.

About 1,300 sets of lights have been rephrased and there have been reports of traffic jams in some places as a result.

Few people would begrudge a small amount on inconvenience in exchange for the benefits that the Olympics bring. Nevertheless, there will be supply chain lessons to be learnt.

In fact, that process has already started with a discussion of the supply chain lessons learned in the course of the construction of the Olympic facilities.

In their report, John Mead and Mark Lythaby of Olympic delivery partner CLM, point out that managing risk was vital because of critical and immovable deadline. You can build the best stadium in the world, but if it is not finished until next week, it is totally useless.

They said the supply chain management approach was designed to ensure that both horizontal and vertical supply chain dimensions were managed to improve efficiencies and facilitate an integrated and collaborative approach to delivery.

“However, at the start of 2009, and in response to the effect of the Credit Crunch within the UK and wider markets, SCM’s remit took on additional emphasis – to manage the potential risk of supplier insolvency.”

As a result of this, some £640 million of supplier risk was either removed or mitigated from the construction programme and 43 supplier insolvencies were avoided with zero impact.

So far, so good. But there is two weeks of competition to come before we get a picture of the degree to which  organisations have correctly gauged the impact of the games on their own supply chains.

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