Two days in and Elmia Wood 2017 is already memorable though I imagine that from the organisers perspective, today’s experiences they could do without. If yesterday had some traffic issues with delays and queues, today was gridlock to the extent it made the national evening TV news. The last time that happened on account of the trade show was in 1993.
Suffice to say that whatever traffic plan was in place for what is officially the world’s largest forestry fair, it hasn’t worked so far. It is though surprising given that Elmia has held forestry events of comparable scale at this particular forest site since 2001 without the drama. There is a slight irony in that the new “Load & Transport” section has been a tremendous success thus far as has much else on the site.
The show logistics is a numbers game that commands respect. The turnstiles open at 9.00. Using figures from the organisers, the 555 exhibitors have around 6 200 people manning the stands that all want to get to their stand before that. Some are camped in caravans in a campsite adjacent to the site and can walk or cycle but the vast majority have to travel by car, bus or other vehicles that also needs a parking space, either by the stand or a designated parking spot. The exact number is known as exhibitors need a parking permit.
Around 50 000 visitors are expected over the four days most of whom will be travelling by car – on paper an average of 12 500 per day. Assuming an average of 1.5 persons/vehicle that is 8 333 vehicles that need visitor parking per day. In reality, previous editions will reveal the variable spread over the four days and the organisers have calculated 22 hectares (ha) parking for 9 000 vehicles including 100 buses.
Then there is the time factor as the vast majority will arrive in the morning say 90 percent will arrive between 8.30 and 11.30. That’s 2 500 vehicles per hour average to park. More critical however is that it means having to get 42 vehicles a minute off the road into a grass-covered field, wet grass at that, otherwise tailback on the road begins forming.
Day three is approaching fast and according to the evening news, a new traffic plan has been worked out. Hopefully, this will get things back on track for an event that truly deserves to be memorable for its global showcase and attendance.