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Case Study

Office for National Statistics: Census 2021

3PL Despatch, Collection & Replenishment services

The Census is a massive national project with complexity and dependencies. The 2021 Census is the largest on record - 97% completed on time, with no items sent to landfill. Its success highlights the capabilities of efficient 3PL solutions.

Census 2021 overview

The ONS is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and recognised national statistical institute. It carries out the Census survey every 10 years. The Census is the largest statistical exercise the ONS undertakes – and 2021 was the biggest ever.

It looks on paper like an impossibly complex task. Yet, it was successfully planned and carried out by Granby and the ONS. The ONS started to publish Census insights in June 2022.

  • 97% completed on time, in full (94% target)
  • 52,000,000 items into Granby
  • 2,800+ pallets of stock held in warehouse
  • 22,000,000 items collated into kits
  • 85,000 items despatched
  • 21,000 delivery stops
  • 269,725 delivery miles
  • Sustainable – zero items sent to landfill
The response to Census 2021 was fantastic with 97% of households taking part across England and Wales to make sure they are represented when it comes to provision of services like health, education, emergency response and transport.
Pete Benton, Director of Transformation at the Office for National Statistics

How Granby helped the ONS carry out Census 2021

The Census produces statistics that informs and underpins social and economic policy, local planning and decision-making – for example in healthcare, education and housing. It’s vital every person in the UK takes part so the resulting statistics are accurate.

Census 2021 was the largest on record. It’s a massive national project with complexity and dependencies. Its success highlights the capabilities of efficient 3PL solutions.

Granby’s responsibilities

  • Our remit covered Despatch, Replenishment and Collection in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NISRA).
  • Granby ensured that all Field Force agents (Census Engagement Managers) had the resources they needed to complete the work from the start and throughout the Census period.
  • We supported over 20,000 field agents around the country, distributing 10s of thousands of items.
  • The kits were individually collated within our facilities and prepared for despatch.
  • Afterwards, we collected resources and equipment for recycling and redistribution.

Essential 3PL services for the public sector

The ONS Census 2021 project summary (bulleted above) shows how complex a project can be – field teams comprising thousands of field agents, laden with thousands of laptops, mobiles, confidential Census forms…

It was such a large and complex project with many variables and assets to track that, without third-party logistics, this Census would not have been possible. Not to mention the added pressure of delivering this national project during a pandemic.

A good 3PL partner isn’t daunted by complexity – we’re geared up to meet the challenge, bringing experience, skills and an active mindset, backed by a robust 3PL fulfilment platform.

  • From design to despatch and collection, our people knew what they were doing at all times through experience, good internal communications and investment in training.
  • We invest heavily in the development of our fulfilment system and warehouse management system. Our technology, SCOPe, is a robust framework that supports timescales, budgets and risk management as well as business intelligence and customer data.
  • Our approach is to make all our projects cost-effective – adding value and making savings where possible. For example, we achieved zero landfill deposits while ensuring high value assets were tracked and returned.
We couldn’t have conducted such a complex operation without a wide range of partners and would like to acknowledge the support given. We thank all our suppliers for helping to make Census 2021 a success.
Pete Benton, Director of Transformation at the Office for National Statistics

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