In pursuing my Post-Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management – Global Logistics, I could not help to draw parallels between the components of SCM and my previous career in mass-participant sports event operations. This indirect background in Supply Chain greatly facilitated the program as I had a constant supply of past professional examples to which I could relate many concepts. The biggest take-away was that all three segments of Supply Chain Management, which include: purchasing, inventory management and logistics are required for a well-managed event, whether on a large or small scale. This article focusses on how mass participant event operations relates to the supply chain management component of inventory management and is the third in a series of three articles on the topic. The first on purchasing can be found here and the second on logistics can be accessed here.
In event operations, both Just-In-Time (JIT) and traditional warehouse inventory (AKA Just-In-Case) is employed. Re-usable equipment and other objects are stockpiled in storage locations that can include a warehouse, shipping container, trailer or within the event’s office space. Trailers and shipping containers are particularly handy as they are both modular and mobile. One or all containers can be sent to the event venue or moved to an alternate lot and as they are already packed, there is no need to transfer the equipment from storage to a transportation device. Trailers are especially useful for events that tour multiple locations throughout the season and can incorporate highway with rail transportation in the form for intermodal piggybacking. Operations managers will want to perform the light integrity test to ensure the container’s contents will be safe from the elements. However, trailers and shipping containers are not perfect: items stored inside are difficult to access and their outdoor placement puts them at risk of theft, overheating and freezing.
On-demand warehousing is often an attractive option for events who desire the reliability of traditional warehousing, with the scalability of an on-demand service. Storing items inside a traditional warehouse allows for greater access to items that are required by event staff on a moderate basis, regular to intermittent item picking and offers protection from the elements. On-demand warehouse space also allows for organizations to take advantage of potential economies of scale offered in the form of lot size discounts and transportation discounts. Here an event can spread out the procurement of a lot size of items across multiple events, acquiring time and cost savings. Warehouses are an ideal storage location for safety stock.
For items that are required for the specific event, it often makes no sense to have them delivered to your warehouse, just to have them loaded up and transported to the event venue at a later date. As many medium to large scale events have access to their venue in the days or week leading up to the event, inventory holding savings, transportation savings and time savings can be achieved by having those items shipped directly to venue. This works particularly well for high volume items that you will receive in the days leading up to the event, including food, water, new signing, sponsor banners and other last minute items. The Just-In-Time benefit of eliminating inventory carrying costs is countered by the high risk of stock-out (in this case, not receiving your items on time), due to unexpectedly long delivery lead times. JIT should therefor only be employed with trusted suppliers, with reliable carriers, and for items that make sense to only arrive in the days before.
A combination storage location types
On-demand warehouse space can be useful in alleviating the downsides of trailer and shipping container storage, yet warehousing overhead costs need to be taken into account. It is not uncommon for large scale events to diversify their inventory across office space, warehouse space and trailer/ shipping containers. This was you can take advantage of the mobility of shipping containers and trailers while taking advantage of the convenience of in-office storage locations for items that require regular access. In addition, items that require temperature control and moderate access, whether in the form of intermittent picking or otherwise will benefit from in-demand warehousing.