With a television audience that will exceed the 3.9 billion people who watched Athens 2004, the London 2012 Olympics is set to be a global showcase that will demonstrate that we as nation can get it right and that we are still very much a major player on the world-stage, at every level.
Between now and the Opening Ceremony on 27 July 2012 a superhuman co-ordinated effort will have been made by a veritable army of planners, consultants, contractors and their myriad of staff and suppliers, to ensure the right goods are ordered, delivered, constructed and installed in the right place at the right time and functioning perfectly.
At the heart of most operations lie pumps – any liquid that needs to be moved or circulated needs a pump to assist it – this means there will be huge demands placed on pumps and pumping systems throughout the games to perform such tasks as delivering clean water, removing dirty water, maintaining the ambient temperature and ensuring that sufficient pressure exists to meet both the everyday and the exceptional demands of both competitors and the huge numbers of media and visitors that the Olympics will inevitably attract.
The track record needed (excusing the pun) in terms of delivering the correct level of expertise and knowledge right the way along the chain will test a lot of the links to their limit.
Although there have been some notable sporting projects in the UK in recent years, including The Millennium Dome and more recently Wembley, the amount of planning, development and resources needed to develop the 500 acre site into an Olympic Village by 2012 will be unprecedented.
It may have seemed the amount of time available to complete the task was more than ample in July when the IOC announced London as the winners. We now realise that this will be eroded by a two – three year planning phase, followed by tender application, before final contracts are issued.
This means that the vast majority of the actual construction will take place in the 2009 to 2011 period.
To put this into perspective the construction started on Wembley in mid 2002 and there is a big push on to get it ready for mid 2006 – a period of four years.
In the most simple terms if you take the cost of Wembley at £757m and divide it into the projected £8.9 billion construction cost for the main Olympic venues – the feat that will be required is 12 times greater, and all this within a shorter time frame.
This is of course without taking any of the ‘spin off’ business into consideration. This business has not been ‘officially’ quantified but with the new hotels, transport and leisure facilities will come huge amounts of additional investment, all of which will require the same expertise to bring on stream.
In fact we have heard of several industry players stating that it is this peripheral business they will actively pursue, as there is a feeling that the high profile Olympic venues could be less lucrative. (The first major project – the Aquatic Centre – is already embroiled in controversy as the build cost has recently been estimated at £116m rather than the £75m figure that had been originally stated and tension between the project team and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has been growing since Tessa Jowell told the designers to make changes to their original plans due to concerns over the increased cost).
As a global pump supplier we have been involved in many of the worlds major sporting events in recent years (we supplied 85 percent of all the pumps required at the Euro 2004 venues and 66 percent of all the pumping solutions used in Athens). We know we have the expertise, product range and experience to deliver the pumps and pumping solutions that will be required. This is especially important, as the bar has been set very high with the promise that London 2012 will be the most sustainable Games ever staged.
As an organisation Grundfos have been at the forefront of developing variable speed pump technology and we have been very vocal in our attempts to change opinions and get variable speed widely specified – as these pumps use up to 78 percent less energy than their fixed speed counterparts.
Despite our belief that as a nation we still lead the way in lots of different fields, specifying and installing energy efficient systems – including pumps – is actually not one of them.
The reality is that cost is still king, and when the pressure is on, and contractors need to save money, the (often hard fought) consultant’s energy efficient specification is frequently substituted for the cheaper fixed speed options, despite the short payback period, and that is when we choose to ignore all the other environmental reasons for using these products.
London 2012 will give us all the opportunity to stand together as a nation with pride in our hearts knowing that we will have delivered our best effort, we have the expertise to do this, but we will only achieve it if we are allowed to employ the best solution available for the long term and this must include variable speed driven pumps.