LOGISTICS

SECURE STORE

By Fiona Anderson

At ConFiction, the Secure Store was in one large room and fully staffed at all times. It held everything for everyone, and had an exemplary system of logging stuff out and back in, to keep track of who had any item at any time, and which department they were from. That was the ideal way to run a Secure Store, but it was heavy on manpower and space, both of which we were short on at Intersection.

Having discussed with Program that they would have their own store room, and with Tech that they would hold everything of theirs in their Tech base, this meant the amount of stuff to go into the Ops Secure Store was dramatically less... though that room was still full!

I therefore decided not to staff it, but instead to give the Ops Room the key, and leave it to the Ops Managers to manage. This helped our staffing shortage problem, but was hard on the Ops Room staff themselves.

The Secure Store contained oniy a couple of tables to help stack stuff reasonably, but was otherwise unfurnished.


LOGISTICS

By Fiona Anderson

Eamonn and I had neither of us any experience at Logistics.

For a long time it was difficult to yet anyone to take on Logistics, as it is quite definitely seen as one of the most ghastly jobs....

However, eventually I found Eamonn and fell on his neck in total gratitude!!! Then I recruited Andrew Adams to help him - Andrew had lots of different things he was doing to help out in different: departments J Also I recruited Andy Croft, who has written me a number of most detailed and interesting articles, not only on Logistics, but also on Electrical Testing, and on the requirements of the Disability Discrimination act, which I shall be using later.

Well, back to Logistics: first off, I asked Roger Perkins for the ConFiction docs, then told Eamonn to write up a how-to document of his own, which went through several mutations, and in the end we did it all differently anyway...as we gained in experience and saw what was really needed.

Originally I had envisaged a van starting from London, and calling at maybe 5 cities on the way up to Glasgow, collecting stuff in each. In the event things became much simpler, as I kept asking people to (a) justify what they wanted to put on the van, and (b) get it to my house.

It turned out that everything that finally went up on the van could be got to my house, which made life considerably easier.

I also sent regular copies of the van' s loading list to intercom ( the general staff email bounce so that people could see how much was on the list. I also stated that I intended to bounce things off the loading list if they had no specified purpose, or if there was too much stuff in total, or if they were in a location we could not easily reach.

I carried out this threat, announcing whenever I bounced anything off the list, on intercom (starting with the Chair's computers!), so people could see I was serious.

As 1 am a non-driver, I had to rely entirely on the drivers to tell me what they needed, and to deal with the hire company for me. This was not such a good thing, in that I didn't know what to look out for as potential problems to be headed off. We eventually hired from a London company, for ease of picking up and returning the vehicle. The van was the largest size you can drive on an ordinary licence as I had no HGV drivers. The company needed to know a lot: of details about the drivers, and Eamonn co-ordinated all our dealings with them.

Everything in the van was covered by the convention's insurance, and Margaret Austin was invaluable in dealing with the insurers, and informing us what they needed to know and what their security requirements were.

As to the fact: that we only used one van, which surprised a lot of people, this was always my plan right from the start. This was partly because Tech hired in all their equipment, which meant the hire companies all dealt with delivering their own stuff. But it was mainly because of the extreme shortage of' drivers. Eventually we had Eamonn himself, Andy Croft, and Andrew Adams, who all gave heroically of' their time and effort, both for Logistics and in other Areas during the con.

Had we really needed a second van, I would have had to hire a removals firm, which would have cost roughly 3 times the amount we spent. Hiring our own van for th duration of the con was extremely handy as there were lots of' times it was needed during the con. A second van was hired for one day at the end of the con to transport some unexpected items away to a local location, and the Art Show had their own dedicated van as well, but these were separate arrangements from what we did for Logistics.


LOGISTICS VAN LOADING LIST

By Fiona Anderson

I'm very keen for everyone to publish their lists of any sort. We were working in the dark in too many areas at Intersection, and lists from a previous European Worldcon, or any Worldcon, might have given us some idea where to start.

Artboards + scaffolding
Publishers books for prizes - several boxes
planet globes for display - separately insured by owner
50 membership files in boxes
1 memberships computer system
1 photocopier
tea-chest of toys for Kidcon
costume Nessie - fits 12 person team.
hugos and bases
ops stuff in multitudinous big boxes

And then there was the merchandise stock in there as well:
1000+ t-shirts
200+ sweatshirts
100 baseball caps
6 little Nessies
1 big Nessie
Box of Scottish thimbles
Box of tartan kaleidoscopes
Box of 500 enamel badges
Fanzines
Postcards
Posters
Box of miscellaneous stuff
Banner support stands

I bumped loads of stuff off the list:

sets of computers from 3 different locations in the South East
art show stuff from the South Coast
fridge from Edinburgh and much more that I've forgotten now - being ruthless paid off, as it kept the final list down to manageable size, but 2 vans or a bigger removals van would have been better, despite not having any Tech stuff to move. (The worst thing from ConFiction was apparently the Tech stuff,)

Logistics budget included:

Van hire - for 10 days, to include going there and BACK, and running around during.
Petrol
Drivers travel and feeding
Overnight accommodation on the trip
Postage
mobile phone for trip
steering wheel lock
rope - plenty of it!
sundries


Below is the write-up Eamonn sent me of his view of Logistics. Actually I think he is unnecessarily hard on himself - I couldn't give him the support he was entitled to expect, as I knew nothing at all about Logistics myself, and was definitely making it up as I went along. Eamonn did a superb job and the con would have suffered greatly without him.

LOGISTICS

By Eamonn Patton

I think you have to take most of the credit (good!) for Logistics because of the way the arrangements finally turned out. I feel rather a fraud with being credited with Logistics.

(Fiona: Eamonn is being too modest - without him, Logistics wouldn't have happened)

My Logistics document was, I fear, over-general for the eventual neecl. It does, I think, still form a good basis to start from; in that I had tried to consider all eventualities (too general!). Anyone attempting to start looking at Logistics could read the document, decide which areas concerned them and junk the rest.

(Fiona: the document Eamonn refers to was the one I presented to the Board who all said "super!" thus demonstrating they were beyond all doubt every bit as ignorant as myself concerning what Logistics meant!)

Part of the reason that the document became over-general was that, thanks to your sterling efforts, everything was to be found in your hallway.

(Fiona: and in my living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and back yard...)

This was possible given the concentration of fans around London and where most items were to be found. We might not be so lucky next time. part of my reason for thinking that is that this con was starting to exhibit signs of becoming a distributed con organisation. Email will be even more important next time round. With a distributed con organisation we might not see the concentration of office equipment: that we did see (office equipment was an important part of' the load).

Lack of an email connection on my part meant that most Logistics arrangements were made by you (this isn't a complaint, merely a statement of fact) Your habit of saying "deliver it to my house" greatly simplified matters.

(Fiona: it surprised our houseguests though! Bernie had invited Alyson to stay with us just before the con, but it was literally only possible to squeeze in through the door of the living room as far as the settee right beside that door - made it interesting trying to entertain J)

At first;, the lack of clear requirements for Logistics was a problem (would Logistics source items or would they only move already sourced items?). On balance I think Logistics should always confine itself to moving items. Too much gear is too specialised for Logistics to bring any significant advantage in the sourcing of items. Where using departments might often be able to borrow the equipment, Logistics would almost always have to pay. In addition the simple fact of the matter is that with a volunteer staff it is not possible to rely on people telling you of their requirements in time. If they have to sort out their own requirements then they will do so.

(Fiona: answers? we don't need no steenking answers! hah!!)

Logistics should be considered when arranging convention insurance. Goods en route for the convention site must be insured for overnight and for other reasonable stops.

(Fiona: I liaised with Margaret and Eamonn about this, and Margaret dealt with all the requirements of insuring our load, our van, our drivers, so that the insurance company knew what we were about. This convention owes a very great debt to Margaret for picking up on all sorts of issues, not just of insurance, but also of a legal and financial nature that were essential to us happening).

Put your most experienced person in charge of Logistics. It might seem obvious; but we were lucky this time (I also appreciate you didn't have a lot of choice).

(Fiona: the number of people who ran off screaming at the mere mention of the word "logistics" was legion. Everyone had heard how vile it was for ConFiction. Anyway Eamonn turned out a good choice, and shouldn't decry himself - we were bloody lucky to get him. My alternative plan was to throw money at the problem, hire Pickfords or a Pickfords clone, and make everyone blench when they realised how much that was going to cost us....but it would have been the only workable alternative.)

Related to this, 1 think the person organising Logistics must live very near the start point for the van run, since, not living near London my choice of van hire companies was restricted to the national hire companies. Perfectly decent and almost: certainly cheaper local. , companies were denied me because of my distance from London

(Fiona: there are major good reasons for going for a national hire company, though I don' t intend to open that can of worms here)

Mass not volume is the limiting factor (the logistics manager should be made to write this out 100 times before taking on the job). Inexperience led to me making this mistake.

(Fiona: well it was my mistake too. I thought as long as everything fitted in the van that was all you had to worry about).

It was definitely valuable having a car making the journey along with the van, especially for the more delicate items. However, check first that the other drivers are willing (and able - insurance, etc) to drive the car too.

(Fiona: Eamonn refers to the physical dimensions of your driver being possibly too long for the car once everything has been loaded into it. Actually I was very grateful to Eamonn who drove clown from Lancaster to London to help us out. I had intended to order them a mobile phone for the trip up in case of difficulties on the way, but it didn't arrive in time)

I was conscious of the fact that the shipping list was somewhat inexact. Again this was partly a non-problem because all the goods were located at your house. However, we didn't actually check everything being put on the van.

(Fiona: my neighbours don't stop at mere curtain-twitching - a number of them came out and stood outside their houses with their entire families to watch the spectacle of us loading up this van…)

Despite your exemplary labelling, there was always the possibility of us missing something buried under a teddy bear or something. Lesson - *know* you've put everything on the van, and what everything is. For the return journey a similar problem existed. I checked the load from memory, and the knowledge that much of the stuff that we brought up from London was consumable in nature. The only place we came a cropper was the artboards,

(Fiona: Aaaargh! if we're going to have trouble it's always those damned artboards every time....)

I checked that we had a big pile of art boards but I didn't check we had the correct number of art boards because I didn't know how many had come up from London.

1 mentioned earlier that we can't depend on requirements being given in time for us to source them. That was the case at Intersection.

(Fional GRTs exemplify that - one of the questionnaires was returned with "gophers what are they?", but at least it was returned - so were *two* others...you'd think people would be aware of the possibility their staff might lynch them if they got no GRTs, but there you go).

I spent a couple of days during Set-up running around picking things up for people from local sources eg mini-chairs and tables for Kidcon, guillotine for Registration, t-shirts. Those things were either unanticipated or as the result of very late changes in plan. Such events cannot be eliminated. We were fortunate that I am from Glasgow and still know my way around the city.

(Fiona: since I left there 20 years ago, it has changed beyond recognition, with all the various improvements to buildings and roads)

Next time we will need someone able to perform a similar role. ie knowledge of local shops, car owner, holder of a credit card. Where this might impact us is that: it isn't entirely beyond the bounds of possibility for there to be another bid from mainland Europe.

(Fiona: Eamonn isn't on this intersmof, and came to this conclusion quite separately from the discussions there)

Given that a lot of the relevant equipment might come from the UK, I might also anticipate a certain amount of British involvement in the Logistics end of things.

(Fiona: well, the experience of ConFiction showed us that it's far less simple to do it across a little stretch of water, into another country) .

I think, quite apart from any other considerations, the transport of goods across borders and the regulations for doing so are likely to become one of the major issues for consideration by the Next European Worldcon.

We survived this time round, because of the willingness of a lot of people to put their all into this, and because we were working under one transport regulatory system. It's not going to be so easy next time .


After lntersection was over, a number of people went away and wrote up their ideas of how to do it Next Time, since now we've done it once, it's far easier to see what should (or shouldn't) be done to make life easier .

Below is the article Andy Croft has written, which is a detailed guide to how to do Logistics, based on his experience and research. No-one could possibly ask for anything more complete J

CONVENTION LOGISTICS BY ANDY CROFT

Introduction

1. The following are points to ponder on when considering planning for the convention.

The cost estimates need to be built into your budget very early on. It's easier to over estimate early on and cut down later than it is to increase your requirements at the last moment when you have to find both money and drivers.

The details given below are based on UK laws and costs as of 1995 The bulk of the points will be valid no matter what country you are in, as the main considerations are the same for any convention anywhere.

2. As a rough timeline, you need to need to make an estimate of the likely transport needs as soon as you decide on both the target size of' the con and its location relative to your base, eg, 800 people at a hotel 200 miles away from most of the committee.

Six months out: you should have a good idea of what your main items are likely to be and how far everything needs to be moved; so reassess your needs from whatever your starting guesstimate was. Two months out you need to book the vehicles you need, particularly if you intend to use a mini-bus or crew bus as they tend to be booked well in advance. It is nearly always possible to book a van closer to time but likely to be the dog end of the fleet, not a good idea.

3. Some people may be surprised by the distance element but it is important If the convention site is around the corner from all the committee and your suppliers one van can do everything with a lot of short runs. However, if you have to move everything 200 miles it has to be in one go unless you have the time and stowage facilities to do a number of long runs (unlikely). Another important point to consider is that many hire companies have time/mileage limits after which the cost per mile becomes high, eg 16p per mile.

Last and not least, the cost of fuel needs to be accounted for. This can be quite high as vans are typically 25 mpg on a good day down to 12-15 for a light truck.

4. The number of people attending and type of con makes a lot of difference in your needs. Some examples might be:

4.1. For every member you have a membership pack linear increase in transport needs. Assuming your membership pack weighs in at 2 Kg, a membership of 200 gives 40o Kg of paper to move which could be handled in a car. A 800 person con would need 16000 Kg or 1.6 tonnes of paper! This is more load than a bottom end Transit can carry on its own. (If you think 2 Kg is on the heavy side, think again, some packs weigh in at more like 3 or 4 Kg.)

4.2. You decide to have an art show. The art boards will probably have to be moved, possibly from a third location to the con site. These are heavy and bulky enough that you really do need a van of the size of Transit as the boards will be half to three quarters of the load capacity alone.

4.3. People lend you computers (or TVs and videos) to use at the con providing that you move them. A car can cope with one or possibly two providing you don't have anything much else to carry in the car. If you have a more than 2, especially if they are boxed (as they should be) you'll need something bigger than the average car to cope with the bulk.

5. Parking facilities at the site may limit your choice of' vehicle as there may be problems with the access for example.

The Drivers

When you ask for volunteers to drive for you, consider the following:

1. Have an idea of' what sort of vehicle you want people to drive and tell them. This is important since some people are very happy and competent driving a car but would be frightened at the thought of driving a 3.5 tonne truck If you have different needs, mention that as well, eg, one Transit and 2 cars.

2. How is the driving of the van to be done, eg, number of drivers authorised by the hire company. It is recommend that you have at least two drivers per vehicle if at all possible, as it makes it easier to split the driving and if someone is taken ill you still get the goodies. A secondary advantage is that if you have to get things at short notice at the con then it is more likely that a driver will be available

Tell people up front what the prospective hire companies restrictions on drivers are, eg number of accidents within the last 5 years, traffic offences, health restrictions etc Most of these points can be negotiable with the hire companies but would need to be dealt with in advance of the hire.

Note: Mini-buses have both and age and number of driving years experience restrictions by law. Newer drivers licences may not permit them to drive one without having passed an additional test.

4. If at all possible get some driving references of the person abilities before saying "Yes please". It's better to pay for a driver than to have the kit destroyed because your volunteer is a nutter!

5. If you do not have two drivers, it is a very good idea to have someone riding shot-gun as an assistant. this also make things like map reading much easier as well as parking since most of your drivers are very unlikely to be accustomed to driving a big vehicle, much less reversing it. Very importantly they can also help load the vehicle properly as it can be hard work especially if you're not accustomed to it. When followed by a long drive it is very tiring which gives the other reason for a partner - to keep the driver awake!

6. The Manual Handling Regs require that amongst other things that staff (and that includes volunteers) are adequately trained to lift things. This is difficult for one-off conventions that are here today and gone tomorrow. It mav therefore be a wise precaution to ask volunteers if they have received any training in safe lifting, If they haven't, then a suitably trained assistant or supervisor is advised. There are a number of quick reminders available on safe lifting, and it may be worthwhile getting a copy and distributing it to all volunteers who are likely to do any lifting. Remember the safe handling of goods is as much the committee's legal responsibility as it is the person who is doing it.

7. Something you need to consider is smoking or non-smoking? Strange perhaps but if you have two people sharing vehicle for many hours it can cause a lot of stress either way. Additionally, if you have a smoker, will it affect or risk your goods, eg, fireworks, food, costume etc.

8. Drivers will want to know what they will have to pay for and how they will be repaid and very importantly, how quickly.

9. Consider giving them a record sheet for mileage, times and fuel put in with costs.

The Load

Hazardous goods

1. If you have to transport hazardous goods there are additional considerations that need to be taken into account. If you are transporting any gas cylinders for example, you must carry them in a different compartment to the drivers Indeed, your supplier should refuse to hand them over unless you have a suitable vehicle as they will be liable for prosecution as well. Similarly, there are many other types of highly flammable goods etc. where it may be compulsory or merely strongly advisable to use a separate compartment.

2. The Transport of Hazardous Goods Act applies in many cases although very small quantities of materials may not cause concern, a larger quantity will require that you comply. This is the law that requires you to have the red hazard signs on the front and back of the vehicle amongst other things. Some of the important points whenever you are carrying dangerous goods are:

2.1. The driver must know what being carried and roughly how much of each hazard.

2.2. What are the safety precautions.

2.3. What are the fire fighting methods to be used.

3. The above requirement is made relatively easy to meet by having the suggested forms filled in stating what the load is made up of. If you see that you are being required to carry anything dangerous, make sure that the person who needs it supplies the necessary safety paperwork in good time for it to be included in the driver's pack.

4 The Explosives Act covers the transport of fireworks. Again, a separate compartment vehicle is strongly advised although not always compulsory. Always ensure that you get expert advice before travelling. The rules for transporting the devices by non-public transport. are relatively easy to comply with in most cases providing the fireworks are packed correctly. (See the ABTTs "Pyrotechnics & smoke effects" for useful guidance. Copies available from Association of British Theatre Technicians, 47 Bermondsey Street, LondonW1, UK) Note that it is illegal to send explosives via the postal service. It is possible to transport small quantities of certain types of explosives by public transport, although the transport authority may have some additional restrictions over and above the regulations.

Packaging

Do the computers etc have their original packaging, or are they going to be moved in the nude? If so, you'll. need to wrap them up well in bubble wrap or similar. Bubble wrap can often be obtained cheaply from DIY shops or garden centres. Boxes should ideally be sealed (especially the bottom!) which means you'll need to have suitable tape available (lots!). Eccentric loads will need to be marked to ensure they are lifted safely as required by the Manual Handling Regs. Likewise any load that is likely to shift needs to be clearly indicated unless it is obvious by looking at it.

Load assessment

1. You are more likely to run out: of weight capacity before you bulk out with a van or truck. This makes the load assessment very important since people in general are not very good at estimating by eye and an overloaded van is not only dangerous but could lead to prosecutions. It should be noted that not only will the driver be done but also the people he's driving for, eg, the con committee. Any successful prosecution is likely to be followed by the hire company suing for damages.

2. What are your loads? For example, very dense or very light but bulky? This makes a big difference to both the type of vehicle(s) you need and how many Something that you may well need to take into account is how the items are likely to be packed, eg, open topped box that you can stack anything on without damaging the contents (membership packs for example). The catch really comes when you have something heavy which should be at the bottom of the truck that you can't stack anything on top of. Note that a truck or van should ideally have its load sitting evenly over the back axle reaching forward. If you don't, then all sort so handling problems are possible.

3. To help identify your load, it is suggested that you have people who want the con to move stuff for them fill in a form that should ask the following questions:

a) Who.
b) When.
c) Where from (plus contact number and address if different).
d) Will it be coming back from the con and if so, will it be bigger or smaller? eq, registration packs will be lots going, but a lot less returning
e) What. Brief description, approximate size and weight of each package and how many packages.
f) Approximate value. The insurer, either the cons or the hire companies, may have a restriction on the maximum value covered without a special extension.
g) How fragile is it? Does it have any particular hazard?
g) What division/person is it to be delivered to at the con (and on return if different to collection).

4. The forms need to start coming in as soon as possible with a cut off date not later than one week before the travelling date. Late arriving bookings will be accepted subject to space and time to fit them in. You could also have an email form which might make it easier to get the data sent to you, but remember that the drivers will need to have hard copy with them.

5. Many hire companies have optional goods insurance that is likely to be much cheaper than extending the convention insurance to cover transport. It has the added advantage in the event of unpleasantness, you only have one company to deal with. Whatever insurance is used, ensure that it will cover everything that you are transporting in full including carriage of third party goods if applicable.

6. It is suggested that you design a suitable packing label. for each division for distribution This would allow people to mark boxes as soon as they have them. You might want to consider putting a vehicle reference number on the label as well.

Every box should ideally be clearly labelled with:
a. Division (Plus contact as required).
b. What ' s in it (general description only)
c. Who/where it's to be returned to.
d. Approximate weight and centre of gravity (C of G) where needed.
Manual Handling Regulations require that the C of G is clearly marked
on eccentric loads to help prevent injury.

People moving

1. This is an oft forgotten requirement which can vary enormously between cons and sites. Not only do you have to get the committee and guests to and from the site but in some cases it may be necessary to help delegates get to the site at times, particularly if you have split accommodation arrangements for example

You cannot charge for transporting people without a Passenger Goods Vehicle operator's licence, and suitably qualified drivers. However if people wish to make a (genuinely) voluntary donation towards cost, then you will probably be okay. Note that most hire agreements specifically state that the vehicle is not to be used for gain.

The Vehicle

1. Van Vs Truck. Transits can typically carry 1 to 1.75 tonnes of cargo with a Sherpa being able to carry up to 3.5 tonnes at the high end whereas a lot of drivers (who feel capable) are able to drive a 3.5 tonne truck which could be up to 1200 cubic foot in size. (Note: newer drivers would not be able to drive these without having passed an additional exam.) The 1200 cu ft are very big for an ordinary driver and it is suggested that a shot-gun/co-driver is essential

The difference is of course you need less drivers and vehicles as one of these could carry 3 Transit size loads. However, if there's a lot of small pick-ups to be made then more vehicles are very worthwhile unless most things are held at a few collection/delivery point(s). It would also be about £lOO cheaper/week of hire to use one truck as against 3 Transits (1995 prices).

2. Fuel costs: how much and payment methods. Obviously the exact fuel consumption is going to vary between vehicles, loads and drivers but will in any event be substantial. The hire companies should be able to give a "guesstimating" figure for the vehicle you choose. As a rough guide, a van is likely to do 20-25 mpg whereas a light truck is likely to be 10-15 mpg (diesel engines are normal on both).

3. Security of vehicle. Transits and other vans other than the very, very new are generally considered poor for security. Many other commercial vehicles are not particularly good either. Think about security and where they will stop overnight where applicable. Most trucks are secured by pad locks which means you pays your money and takes your choice and you will have to supply them. You would have to supply at least one per truck or Luton van. A curtain side truck may need as many as three pad locks. Make sure that the lock is the right size for the hasp, as they can be awkward.

4. Securing the load. Most people have a tendency to just chuck things into the back of a van in the same way that they do their car. This is not wise, nay even dangerous in a lot of cases and could lead to possible prosecution. Many of the loads (especially if you use the trucks) will need to be secured to keep them in place to both prevent damage to the goods when braking normally and in case of emergency. Rope or strops will be needed these are not normally supplied by vehicle hire companies. They will need to be provided separately. Note that plastic rope may be cheap, but it also unsuitable for security as it not only tends to slip easily, but also stretches. Use hemp or strong sash cord for small loads.

5. If you have a lot of tall bits and pieces to carry you may need a Luton or high topped van, these are more expensive, eg £315/week with a 7.5 tonne box van at £445 to £524/week for a 1200 cu ft with tail lift truck (Southern Self' Drive, 1995). You pays your money and takes your choice.

6. It may be possible to pay on an invoice basis, but while you are likely to find that they only do it with regular contracted customers it might be worth considering. It is normal to have to supply a deposit for the hire, but be warned that the hire company is not very likely to accept company checques.

7. If you hire a truck, it is strongly recommend that you fork out the few extra pounds on getting a tail lift lorry as it makes it much easier to load and unload especially away from a dock. Remember the requirements of the Manual Handling Regulations.

The Hire

1. One way hire Vs a week's hire. A number of the bigger hire companies offer one way rentals from many points in the country to other major points. The cost of one way hire is surprising £627.60 for a truck or £459.05 for a large van when you consider that the a long wheel base Transit (or Mercedes 310) costs £315.72 or the 7.5 tonner £520.05 for a week's hire from the same company! (Ryder, 1995) You would also need to consider that drivers will need to get home separately.

2. One of the things to be aware of is a mileage limit before supplemental charges are incurred. 20 pence per mile doesn't seem much until you run up a few miles when it starts building quickly. This supplement can start after as little as 100 miles - in a day this is very easy to do. Check the contract beforehand.

3. Location of hire company vs pick-up and delivery. If you get all your vehicles from one place to get a good deal, bear in mind that it may not be such a good deal by the time the drivers have to manage to get to the depot to pick up their vehicle; you could easily loose half to a full day in driver travelling. It is possible that one of the big companies would give you a deal although the vehicles are picked up and returned to different depots.

The Move

1. Routings for pick-up and return. The routing of' the pick-up is partly the shortest route, but it must also take into account the load itself and time available for collection. The load size is the most obvious thing to think of but if it's fragile then it may well need to be picked up last unless you have enough room to repack as you go. Consider using Autoroute or a simila rprogram to help with planning the route as it will also calculate the estimate travel times Note that a light van might manage an average speed over distance of 65 mph whereas a truck is doing well to make 55 mph.

2. 1f the pick up takes more than an hour or two at the most, then it may not be possible to make the trip in one day as the maximum number of hours permitted for company drivers is 11 hours in a day. While the rules are not strictly compulsory, it is be advised that they are followed for safety's sake. They should have a number of breaks, 15-20 minutes every 1.5 - 2 hours with a longer one of an hour after 4-5 hours. This needs to be scheduled in as it may introduce an overnight stop that may not otherwise have needed (expenses). It also means that you need to start the journey a day earlier than you might expect. Note that when we did the FOF pick-up from 3 locations in London it took 2.5 hours alone - and they were all more or less on the route!)

3 Consider having a lock-up or similar for stuff to be put in over the last few weeks before the con as it would greatly simplify the collection problem It would also make it easier for a lot of smaller items to be boxed for transport by division. The depot could a be a house if needed, but please bear in mind the size of the vehicles, traffic restrictions etc at the locations. If its in a narrow road with cars parked on either side forget getting a big truck down it.

Optional extra. Something that isn't essential but could be very useful to speed things up as well as to keep in touch in general is if a cell phone is available to the vehicle crews, at least while picking up / dropping off at this end. It means they could give an ETA and hence hopefully ensure that both people and goods are ready for them.


THE VEHICLE INSPECTORATE

By Andy Croft

While I was talking to Andy (electronically) about Logistics and other issues, the subject of the Vehicle Inspectorate came up. As a non-driver I had never heard of this organisation, or known anything of it's function, so I was extremely grateful when Andy offered to write me an article about them too:

Note for Next Time, use a driver to be in overall charge of Logistics, then they will understand what people are talking about J

The Vehicle Inspectorate (VI) is a not so large organisation in the Department of Transport who amongst other things are responsible for supervising the MOT test centres and doing road side inspections to that standard. The road side inspections also include little things like:

1. Carrying out safety inspection of' all commercial vehicles stopped for inspection, eg lights, brakes (a high failure item), structure etc.

2. Checking the vehicle is within its load limit and that the load is safe eg securely and adequately restrained. This would also include ensuring that the load is correctly distributed within the vehicle - a common problem area for amateur drivers in particular. (That's why I was very particular about securing what had to be loaded and insisted on the goods being put in a certain order.

3. Ensuring where appropriate that the drivers are within their driving hours limit. These are not compulsory for amateur drivers or for vehicles below a certain size. However, a wise person will follow them for safety's sake in any event - especially with an unfamiliar vehicle.

4. Hazard signs etc. are correctly located and are showing the correct information.

5. Drivers have all the correct documentation for the load being carried Note: The Transport of Hazardous Goods Act which is an enabling act for UN regulation which is common around the world including EEC can require the carriage of "Notes to Divers". These Notes typically include details of what the hazard is and very importantly, what to do in the event of an accident.

There is an associated act that covers the transport of explosives, eg, fireworks over a certain quantity.

Normally inspections are carried out in conjunction with the police traffic units who carry out the enforcement of anything found, ie, you're nicked! They stop vehicles at random although there are quite a few fixed inspection points most are mobile. As a taster of what's now starting to happen, about a month ago three police forces teamed up with the VI to carry out inspections on all the main routes into their areas. The reason for this is that the dodgy companies keep track of where the inspection points are and redirect the rest of the crap vehicles away from them. By doing 3 areas simultaneously this is not possible. The police of course are just as happy to do an individual (or con) as they are to do a duff company. Drive well!