Communication will be the key for successful deliveries to London and other Olympic cities during the weeks of traffic disruption, according to a leading industry figure.
Neil Hodgson, Managing Director of the Fortec Distribution Network, said smooth operations are achievable despite road closures but only if there is clear communication along the entire supply chain.
"The road closures will happen and we will have to work around them – they are an inevitable side-effect of the Olympics and Paralympics, even if carriers and our customers find them unwelcome," he said.
"Solutions can be found but require above all that everyone is put clearly in the picture about what is possible and that all parties update each other regularly about any changes that will affect the choices.
"One obvious solution is to deliver more in-night, rather than through the day, but this will only work if customers know that their customers are in a position to accept deliveries out of normal hours.
"There is no point in a customer asking a carrier to deliver in the middle of the night if, when the carrier arrives at the final destination, the premises are locked up and no-one is there to accept the goods.
"Companies need to be talking to their carriers, and to their customers, to keep abreast of what could at times be a changing situation. Communication is the key all the way along the supply chain."
There will be a record 45 days of delivery disruption in and around London this summer with road closures planned not only for the Olympics between 27th July and 12th August, and the Paralympics from 26th August to 9th September, but also the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations over the first weekend in June and the regular Notting Hill carnival in mid-August.
Roads are to be closed near Olympic venues and several Olympic and Paralympic events including the men’s and women’s marathon and elements of the triathlon will actually take place on the streets of the capital. The exact times which roads will re-open after events is flexible.
For 70 days running up to the Olympics, the official torch procession will tour the UK, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, leading to more traffic disruptions.
Mr Hodgson said the Fortec Distribution Network, with 65 independent licensees across the UK, was preparing to be as flexible as possible in order to help customers during the difficult period.
Transport for London has already been running trials of night-time deliveries in parts of London to test a Code of Conduct developed in partnership with the Freight Transport Association and the Noise Abatement Society that is designed to make deliveries as quiet as possible.
Mr Hodgson said: "Dealing with the Olympic road closures is in some ways similar to dealing with extreme weather such as snow – you know it is coming but you are never sure how difficult the conditions are going to be.
"Our members coped extremely well with the blizzards in 2010, in many cases going well beyond the call of duty, showing how robust, flexible and reliable the Fortec Distribution Network is.
"The key then, as it will be for the Olympics, was good information. Without it a carrier risks making lots of unnecessary and unproductive journeys and letting down its customers to boot."