The Olympics: Millions of shifting parts

The logistics of the Olympics
The logistics of the Olympics


    The logistics of the Olympics


The logistics of the Olympics 04:36

Story highlights

  • American logistics giant UPS moved 30 million items to the London Olympic games
  • UPS has been involved in the logistical operation of both the London and Beijing Olympics
  • UPS makes 7.7 million deliveries a day and in 2011 it had revenue of $53.1 billion

American logistics giant UPS moved 30 million items to the London Olympic games. From beds to toilet brushes, basketballs and boxing gloves, UPS shifted it around -- with just two exceptions.

"If you turned the 34 venues upside down, everything that falls out, we moved.. except for the people and the horses," said Scott Davis, the man who has been at the helm of UPS since 2008.

The London Olympics have been a "great opportunity" for UPS, one of the world's biggest delivery and distribution companies, to "show the world how capable we are," Davis said.

UPS was involved in the logistics behind Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Games, which boosted the company's profile internationally. According to Davis, the company's "brand recognition went up 33%."

Read more: Branding the Olympic Games

UPS, which was founded in 1907 in Seattle, Washington, makes 7.7 million deliveries each day and employs 398,300 people worldwide. Last year its revenue was $53.1 billion.

The company's clout means Davis' comments are closely watched, as they were when he said the U.S. economy would grow less than expected during a call with analysts.

The company is a "barometer of what is going on in the U.S. economy," Davis said.

He believes the U.S. economy will grow, but at a very slow pace. "I think uncertainty will continue into the second half of the year," Davis said.

And while uncertainty in tax policy and spending policy remains, businesses "are not going to hire people, they won't invest, and I think that will slow things down for the next six months until we make decisions in Washington," he added.

Despite the crisis, Europe's economy is showing improvement. "It actually has been reasonably good for UPS in Europe," Davis noted. "It is slowing, as we saw earlier in the year, but we are still showing growth in Europe."

"Our idea is to invest in TNT, [and] people look at me as if to say, 'are you crazy, a European acquisition at this time?' "Davis said.

But UPS is a long term investor, he added. "We think Europe will be fine in the long term, we think it will have a rough turbulent couple of years, but long-term Europe will be competitive and do fine."

      Marketplace Europe

    • spc marketplace europe latvia valdis dombrovskis_00021207.jpg

      Latvia's economic prospects

      CNN's Nina Dos Santos visits Latvia to speak to the country's outgoing Prime Minister and the prospects for the eurozone's 18th member.
    • spc marketplace europe malta immigration africa_00002118.jpg

      Asylum seekers in Malta

      Malta is the gateway to Europe and on the frontline of the immigration flows. Isa Soares reports from a detention center on the Mediterranean island.
    • spc marketplace europe malta immigration vox pops_00001419.jpg

      Maltese concerned over migrants

      CNN's Isa Soares speaks with people on the streets of Valletta who say their country can't cope with more migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
    • spc marketplace europe malta george vella_00032005.jpg

      Malta's migrant struggle

      Malta cannot afford to continue supporting migrants from war-torn countries in its over-crowded detention camps, the country's foreign minister has told CNN.
    • spc marketplace europe 2013 what went wrong_00020426.jpg

      What went wrong in 2013?

      Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
    • spc marketplace europe 2013 defining moments bob parker intv_00010826.jpg

      2013: The year of tapering

      CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
    • spc marketplace europe estonia energy_00000923.jpg

      Estonia's dirty energy drive

      The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
    • spc marketplace europe nani beccalli falco_00041005.jpg

      GE Europe exec's jobs warning

      Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
    • spc marketplace europe greece petros christodoulou_00002025.jpg

      Is Greece on the mend?

      Greece is on the way to economic recovery as investor faith returns to the recession-ridden eurozone nation, an executive at Greece's largest bank has told CNN.
    • spc marketplace europe euro jim cloos_00012617.jpg

      Don't blame euro, says pioneer

      One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
    • spc marketplace europe maastricht eu_00002401.jpg

      The birthplace of the euro

      Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
    • spc marketplace europe spain working hours_00010525.jpg

      Spain may turn clocks back

      As Spain continues its drive to slash budgets and cut spending, one of the nation's favorite pastimes is under threat as ministers look for ways to boost productivity.