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Shell Eco Marathon

The Shell Eco Marathon is an opportunity for engineering students to build and test fuel-efficient cars.

The European event takes place in Rotterdam, in and around the Ahoy exhibition centre. A temporary race track is built around the venue, and the halls used for garages, exhibitions and interactive features based around the theme of energy efficiency.

With 200+ teams and 2000+ students, it’s important to find somewhere for them all to stay. Adjacent to the Ahoy centre is a large municipal park, and my role was to turn a basic, empty park into a secure, safe and comfortable campsite.

With only 6 weeks between winning the contract and the delivery date, it was important to move quickly – and the Rotterdam City authorities needed plans and proposals as soon as possible.

I conducted initial site visits and drew up general arrangement plans within a couple of days. As is usual with these projects, several amendments had to be made to accommodate the City’s requirements.

While the final details of the plans where being decided, it was important to find suppliers able to provide the necessary equipment and services for the site.

It’s always tempting to use current contacts to supply services overseas, shipping equipment and crew over for the event. However, I was keen to use Dutch companies as much as possible – it fits in with Shell’s purpose for visiting Rotterdam, and helps with inter-European relations. It’s also easier for local companies to accommodate last-minute changes and special requests.

In total, around 90% of the external contracts were awarded to local suppliers. This included:

  • Fencing
  • Generators
  • Site lighting
  • Water supply and sewerage disposal
  • Toilet hire
  • Shower hire
  • Gas supply
  • Site cleaning
  • Washroom and office cleaning
  • Trackway supply
  • Construction of temporary handrail over footbridge
  • Fire extinguisher hire
  • Plant hire
  • Crewing
  • Manager’s accommodation hire

The site was constructed over a 2-day period with most of the heavy items in place by the end of day one, and site marking-out and signage completed ready for inspection by the end of day two.

In total, the campsite was open for 8 days. During this time I was resonsible for maintaining the facilities we had installed, reporting to the main events team (via daily briefings) and liasing with the safety & security teams (both of which were supplied direct by Shell).

With several different groups (and nationalities)  involved with the work on site, it was important to make sure everyone was working smoothly together. This required a calm head and clear, consistent management.

At the end of the event, the site was broken-down and cleared of equipment in one day.

Post-event, there’s the inevitable loose ends to tidy up, as well as end-of-project accounting. As this project involved a large number of inter-EU purchases, I also filed paperwork necessary to reclaim the VAT paid (BTW in the Netherlands) from the Dutch authorities.

My client, Entourage Event Management, summed up the project thus:

“Thank you so much for all the hard work you put in to planning and delivering the campsite at SEM. We have heard nothing but praise for your work and the manner in which you approached the whole project!”

In a similar vein, the main event contractor sent a note:

Although I should have sent this earlier, I just wanted to say that it was a pleasure working with you to deliver Shell Eco-marathon last month and to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all involved.

Thank you for your patience with the short lead times (7 1/2 weeks from client approval to delivery on site), long working hours and everything else you had to cope with. Generally, on a project this huge and with so many different aspects to be delivered with an extremely challenging build schedule, you would expect to see frayed tempers, frustration and problems with the build. The good-natured way in which you and your team dealt with everything certainly contributed to the fantastic atmosphere throughout.

There was a de-brief in Rotterdam last week involving the Council, the Police, the Venue, the Client and a number of other stakeholders, the feedback was incredibly positive. Although there was a level of nervousness about so many people camping so close to the venue, there wasn’t one public complaint which was a massive achievement.

Nick and Hannah did an incredible job.”