Wimbledon: strawberries, cream, tennis balls, and supply chain planning applications

The Wimbledon Tennis Championship is one of the most iconic events of the British summer. From the pristine grounds and the strict dress code, to the royal box and the Pimms, the lawn tennis action is watched by millions worldwide and considered by many as a true display of all that is British. And each year thousands of spectators come from far and wide to enjoy one of the most prestigious fortnights on the sporting calendar.

In fact, throughout the two-week tournament, attendees will tuck into 142,000 portions of English strawberries, and 7000 litres of dairy cream. Just sourcing this volume is no mean feat and requires a huge level of planning precision.

> See also: Hot off the shelves – how retailers are using unstructured data to predict summer demands

There are further logistical challenges behind the scenes with the tennis balls themselves. Slazenger provides these for Wimbledon and before their arrival on the courts the various components have made a journey spanning over 51, 000 miles across the world.

While all production takes place at Bataan in the Philippines, the tennis balls have their origins across the world.

The clay comes from the United States and is sent directly to Bataan (8,710 miles). The wool is produced in New Zealand and shipped to Stroud in the UK (11,815 miles) for felt weaving before making the journey to Bataan (a further 6,720 miles). China supplies oil naphthalene (2,085 miles), South Korea offers sulphur products (1,630 miles), Thailand sends zinc oxide (1,335 miles), Greece provides the silica (5,960 miles) and Japan adds magnesium carbonate (1880 miles). One part of the rubber used comes from Malaysia (1,505 miles) while the glue comes from a plant in the Philippines located a mere 560 miles from the factory.

Once the tennis balls are produced, they are shipped to Indonesia for packaging (1,710 miles) and before making the final 6,600 mile of the trip to England. A grand total of 51,130 miles!

The distance the tennis ball travels back and forth, between two players during a few sets at Wimbledon, is infinitesimal compared to what is necessary for production.

What these tennis balls demonstrate is the complexity of today’s supply chain – and how ever business must become global to survive. For other industries, these considerations are important for the margin quality.

If a company does not produce enough, it will miss sales and profits. If it produces too much, it could have catastrophic inventory costs. In either case the brand's reputation and its bottom line will suffer.

Is it therefore possible to link the supply and demand planning for optimum production? Many solutions exist today and they are all grafted on the company's ERP systems. Notwithstanding, they are desperately short of collaboration and generally operate in silos.

> See also: Don't drop the ball: what cricket can teach us about big data

Companies require solutions that work as integrated planning platforms, run ideally in the cloud, where the numerous and disparate players in the supply chain can work together.

With this kind of solution supply managers can get a real time view on the constraints of factories; allowing the entire business – including marketing and distribution – to also be aware of the issues.

And if the final demand decreases or accelerates, the business will be in a position to make good decisions almost immediately, not having to wait three to six months when it is too late.

Sourced from Ian Stone, Managing Director, UK and Ireland, Anaplan

Avatar photo

Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

Related Topics

Supply Chain