A matter of logistics

Sport Business News

MEI turns its attention to the matter of logistics and freighting issues for major events.

A sports event cannot take place without the equipment used by its competitors and suppliers arriving safely and intact. With sports events now taking place in an increasingly diverse range of countries in the furthest corners of the world, heightened security procedures now in place, as well as as restrictions regarding baggage allowances by airlines, there is an even greater need for specialist logistics companies such as EFM to take care of freighting issues. EFM's operations director, Lisa Ryan has looked after the movement of equipment and temporary overlay around the world for a wide range of sports properties and facilities companies over the last 12 years, by air, sea, and road, including the British Olympic Association, British Rowing, British Cycling, and the British and Irish Lions, All Blacks and Wallabies Rugby teams. EFM has been responsible for logistics operations for sports teams, event sponsors, suppliers and organising committees alike, at many major international sports events including the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup, the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar, and the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games amongst numerous others. "Things have certainly been more challenging for the industry since airlines clamped down on excess baggage and what can be carried in hand luggage, " said Ryan. "Items such as canoes and pole vaults often have to be freighted now and obviously athletes feel anxious about being parted from their equipment in case it doesn't turn up. That's why they turn to companies like ours to organise safe transportation as quickly and cost effectively as possible. "EFM's services range from 'meet and greets' at airports where a team might be transferring between flights and cannot take their luggage onto a different airline through to freighting temporary structures, expensive broadcasting equipment, kitchens, seating, audio visual equipment, props, staging and special effects for opening and closing ceremonies, to sports venues and training facilities anywhere in the world. "In a situation where equipment is being hired at an expensive daily rate, a broadcaster would rather have their equipment arrive within three weeks than five, so those are the sort of elements that have to be factored in, " said Ryan. "Sometimes we are literally called up from airports where teams have turned up with all their equipment, been refused by the airline and therefore need our help urgently. ""Time is always the major factor when it comes to the services EFM provides", explained Ryan. "Obviously, there are finite dates when equipment and overlay have to be at a destination–it's no good if it arrives after an event has started, nor if it arrives too early either, because of storage and space issues. We have strict schedules that we follow; timetables are key. "Certain items such as horse feed and medicines for the 2008 Beijing Olympics equestrian event in Hong Kong had to be freighted at a strictly controlled temperature and there's always the complicated issue of paperwork and getting goods through customs, which is easier in some markets than others. "It can be a bit of a steep learning curve for teams and federations regarding what they can and cannot take on planes with them, let alone how they are dealt with by customs, " added Ryan. "Guns and ammunition are obviously strictly controlled, as are many types of food and drink, medicines and often radios and broadcasting equipment. "Ryan explained that it is often the smaller events that run into problems with logistics through being "less organised and usually not in contact with customs". Larger scale events however typically have to follow a strict charter of expectations and facilitate the access to their country of facilities and equipment needed to run the particular event. In the case of Beijing 2008, special laws were passed in this regard for the Games. "We win a lot of business because we spend time talking to organising committees and discussing areas where there might be problems early on, " said Ryan. "We had meetings with BOCOG very early and made sure that they were aware of the major issues relating to moving equipment. "An industry source has seen airports paralysed by freight at the time of major sports events because organising committees haven't planned for their arrival properly. "Certainly international federations need to think more carefully sometimes about who they award their events to, often there doesn't seem to be enough guidance or control, " added Ryan. As far as working in the logistics business goes, Ryan has faced many challenges, however, she believed that the most challenging project she has faced so far was probably the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar. "There were many reasons, but this was primarily due to the size and existing infrastructure of the country and the timings of the Games, following so soon after Ramadan, " she explained. "The majority of the equipment for the Games had to be procured from overseas and due to the location of Qatar, therefore had to be brought in by air, road or sea freight. In addition the customs procedures and paperwork requirements were complicated for many foreigners to understand and navigate through, which was where EFM came into their own as we had extensive experience in the region previously. The challenge for us was to continue to deliver our services to our clients to our usual high standards, which was often incredibly difficult for everyone under the circumstances. Ultimately everything came together locally and as a result EFM was finally able to achieve its goals and keep our clients happy!"About EFMEFM's offices are located in UK, Germany, USA and UAE, further supplemented by an international network of like–minded specialist partners. For further information please contact: Lisa Ryan, director, EFM Management LtdTel: +44 (0) 1932 590322 / Fax: +44 (0) 1932 590323 / Email: lisa@efm–worldwide. comURL: www. efm–worldwide. com

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