This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Running Ahead

15 January 2007

Catering facilities at the Commonwaelth Games, Melbourne

A unique partnership that put best value at its heart to deliver the catering facilities from the UK to the Melbourne Commonwealth Games athletes village, won the Overall and Partners in Sports Facilities Management categories at the PFM Awards 2006

COMPARED TO PROVIDING PERMANENT CATERING FACILITIES, the provision of temporary catering facilities for major events present very different FM challenges. Delivering pre-fabricated catering facilities for the Games Village at Melbourne Commonwealth Games in March 2006 required a close knit partnership between kitchen hire specialist, PKL, and event freight specialists, EFM, working as a cohesive single unit from the initial bid preparation onwards.

Smooth management of temporary catering projects is highly dependent on detailed preplanning of design, delivery and implementation with no leeway for delays or downtime. This project imposed tighter timeframes and higher levels of documentation than most such events. This necessitated a working relationship between PKL and EFM that transcended the conventional supplier/logistics contractor arrangement.

As Lisa Ryan, Operations Director at EFM Management Ltd explained, "Our relationship with PKL stands out from others because we work together as a team. Most logistics contracts are placed simply on the basis of cost leading to possible compromises in service levels. With PKL, although price is clearly a consideration, the emphasis is on arriving at a best-value solution that delivers the project on time."

The catering facilities for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games comprised an interconnected complex of temporary buildings housing food preparation areas, kitchens, storage areas including refrigeration, pot wash areas and diningspace to seat 1,800 diners at any one time. On average 20,000 meals were served each day to athletes, staff and visitors over a period of 25 consecutive days.

All the equipment was prepared at PKL's facilities in Cheltenham and, where necessary, adapted to work on Australian gas. Each item had to be modified to cope with different pressures and calorific values. The water and gas pipework had to comply to local standards which are higher than EU standards and fire suppressions systems had to be fitted to all kitchen modules. The equipment was then containerised and shipped to Melbourne by EFM in mid 2005 and installed into the prefabricated structures at the Games site (see page 16). The consignment comprised 51 containers each containing 200-300 items of equipment.

EFM also transported to Melbourne for its other clients some 40 tonnes of lighting, over 120 bikes and spare wheels, as well as equipment for the temporary overlay companies, the opening and closing ceremony production company and their suppliers, broadcasting equipment, the England team, Commonwealth Games Federation and London 2012. Everything sent out to the Games was also 'reexported' and in some cases was been shipped directly on to subsequent sporting events - like the Football World Cup and Asian Games in Qatar.

PKL is the worlds' largest Portable Kitchen hire company with a fleet of over 750 kitchen units and 9,000 items of catering equipment. It is this size that allows PKL to provide temporary catering facilities worldwide, as well as the core UK market. The company has built up an impressive track record of events in recent years incorporating the Olympic Games in Sydney and Athens, the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Melbourne, and at the Asian Games in Qatar last month. The kitchen for the Athens Olympics was the size of a football pitch and served up to 100,000 meals per day ¨C the worlds largest temporary kitchen. The entire kitchen facilities were moved by EFM from Melbourne to Qatar to be ready in time for the Asian Games.

The containerized system allows fully fitted kitchen modules to be shipped completed, ready for immediate use. The modules themselves include all extraction systems, gas, electric, water and waste services. By the time they arrive on site it is just plug and go. In Melbourne, tight timeframes and very narrow windows of delivery and site access meant it was essential that each stage was planned in detail. Liaison with a complex chain of transport contractors necessitated scrupulous paperwork and timing. Documentation included bills of lading, import and taxation documentation and detailed inventories on entering and leaving Australia. Additionally, to comply with the stringent AQIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Services) regulations, each shipping container had to be fumigated.

In order to comply with some of the strictest union regulations in the world, EFM had arranged for their truck drivers who would be delivering all the PKL equipment to site in Melbourne, to attend local training courses in advance, to get issued with a 'red card' which would permit them not only access to site but also allow them to operate their on-board lifting equipment for grounding the containers at the venues. This was a requirement that was particular to this job in Melbourne and proved very time consuming for all concerned. There was also congestion at the docks and in the end they removed all containers off the port immediately on arrival and held them at their own private local facility in order to be able to guarantee timed deliveries to the PKL crew at the venues.

PKL found itself as a key part of the Organising Committee's project delivery team, the only contractor experienced in delivering similar projects. They were key in co ordinating the works of locally supplied electricians, ground workers, civil engineers and M&E. While use was made of of local subcontractors for specialist tasks - a Union requirement as no non Union labour was allowed to actually to do manual trades on site - this meant that all PKL staff had to join the Union themselves and they were carefully monitored so that they were not doing work that could be contracted locally.

Although the Games lasted for only 11 days, the kitchen was actually in operation for 35 days. A local caterer elawareNorth provided the catering staff and food. This company also operates the Emirates Stadium and has won the foodservice contract for Wembly stadium. PKL provided 24 hour service cover during the operational life of the kitchen.

Close working
The high profile and complex nature of this project created particular challenges that could only be addressed efficiently be entering into a partnering relationship with both parties sharing knowledge and goals. It was also highly transparent with PKL and EFM working together on the initial costings to produce the bid. A conventional business agreement between two parties would have been vulnerable to errors in a project of this complexity, so personnel from bot h companies formed a co-ordinating/planning group that addressed every detail of the project. Planning began a year before the Games were due to begin. The best value approach to the contract gave the partners time to consider all the variables. For example, EFM was able to call on its experience to allow for volatility of fuel prices in initial bids and to anticipate potential delays so that PKL could build this into their schedule. This sharing of knowledge proved invaluable in anticipating and eliminating potential problems.

This was a ground breaking project that made a significant contribution to the smooth running of the facilities at the Commonwealth Games, and this has been carried forward to the next project, the 15th Asian Games in Qatar last month. PKL packed down all the containers in Melbourne, and the same people unloaded them in Qatar. Qatar will prove especially challenging as all goods supplied are subject to temporary import duty. The only way that this will be refunded is when EFM and PKL can prove to local customs that all items brought to Qatar have been re-exported in the exact same way as they were imported earlier in 2006! The project managers from EFM and PKL met in Doha to plan in detail the load-out operation after the Games either back to the UK or to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.

Asian Games, Qatar
....50,000 meals per day produced
....5,000 separate recipes prepared
....Up to 400 menu choices per day
....250 trucks of food consumed
....140,000 chickens eaten
....500,000 bottles of water used
....Enough milk drunk to fill an Olympic swimming pool
....300,000 portions of rice served
....800 catering and kitchen staff

Commonwealth Games, Melbourne
....1 year planning; 6 months construction
....1,000 sq m kitchen space
....6,000 sq m dining space
....700 sq m walk-in refrigeration
....12 separate display cooking stations in the dining hall
....200m of hot and cold servery counters
....6 ovens for roasting 36 chickens in each
....4 frying pans to fry 200 eggs in each
....6 boiling pans for 600kg of vegetable per hour each

Print this page | E-mail this page