Logistics makes Formula 1 racing happen

Roger OakdenGlobal Logistics

Logistics pressures.

Managing logistics can be tough, but managing event logistics adds another dimension – absolute time constraints.

This month heralds the opening race of the Formula 1 motor racing circus that travels the world. The first race for 2014 is at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia, a site that is normally a public park with public roads, so it is only available for a few days.

In that time, the movement of a staggering array of items will occur, so that all runs like clockwork and the paying fans do not notice anything but the race – poor logistics and the race does not happen!

The scale of logistics movements for each event requires extensive planning by Formula One Management. They contract the customs and quarantine clearance, freight handling and transport for each race to specialist companies based in each country where a race is held. The Australian contractor has delivered on its contract since 1985, which must be some sort of outsourcing record!

Moving the Grand Prix

The freight movement exercise is like moving a small army. By air there will be six 747 freighter aircraft on charter carrying more than 700 tonnes of racing cars and equipment that arrive from pre-season testing in Bahrain. Also included are all other items for the Grand Prix to work – time measuring systems, turnstile control for the pits and media area and tools to be used by scrutineers when checking the cars.

A chartered 767 aircraft will bring the all important tyres. An additional 40 tonnes of equipment will arrive on scheduled services and senior people of each team will bring in accompanied luggage of last minute parts, which need to be cleared by customs.

More than a week before the race, the television transmission equipment arrives on four charter aircraft from the UK. This allows sufficient time for the critical set-up and test process.

By sea there will be 35 forty foot containers to be transferred from the Melbourne container port to the circuit. The containers carry the fit-out for each team’s garage, hospitality chalets and kitchens, each of which must be set-up at their allocated location. Due to the difference in shipping times and race intervals, there are multiple sets of containers used. Those destined for Australia will travel to Montreal for round nine – the Canadian Grand Prix in June.

After the race finishes on Sunday evening, the organisers have until midnight on the Monday to return the site for public use; this requires about 80 truckloads of equipment to be ready for loading and moving to the the airport over Monday. The charter aircraft then fly to Kuala Lumpur with cars, their equipment and television transmitters, where it is all readied for the next race on the Sunday!

So, if you are watching the Australian Grand Prix on your television, be amazed at how it all seems to work so smoothly – that’s service logistics!

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About the Author

Roger Oakden

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With my background as a practitioner, consultant and educator, I am uniquely qualified to provide practical learning in supply chains and logistics. I have co-authored a book on these subjects, published by McGraw-Hill. As the program Manager at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, I developed and presented the largest supply chain post-graduate program in the Asia Pacific region, with centres in Melbourne, Singapore and Hong Kong. Read More...