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2012 The Movie: How was the Ark built?

Business | August 12, 2022 | By Kausika Raajan Varatharaajan 2012 movie

The year 2009 saw a lot of feature films come and go. And as per (the International Movie DataBase) IMDB, the list of feature films amounts to a whopping 7610. That’s a lot! I probably would have watched very few among the 7610 and a few among those features in my re-watchable list. One such feature film goes by the title 2012. Yes, the Sci-Fi movie that depicts the end of the world. Thriller | 2012 movie | ZumenThe movie scared me then and sometimes even now, especially after the pandemic that shook the world. I watched this movie a couple of weeks back, and many things struck me. One of the things was how they would have built the Ark that could take more than 100,000 people. And being in the procurement and supply chain space made me go a little bit deeper and think how hot the seats of the procurement and sourcing teams would have been!

2012: The Movie

The story of the 2012 movie goes like this. An American geologist learns from an Indian astrophysicist that a new type of neutrino from a solar flare is heating the earth’s core. The geologist returns to America, forms a committee, and informs the White House Chief of Staff. He then meets the President of the United States of America and explains the situation. All these happen in the year 2009. 

Cho Ming Valley | 2012 the movie | ZumenIn 2010, the President of the United States and other world leaders discuss and start the construction of 9 Arks in the Cho Ming Valley in Tibet. Why Tibet? Predictions were such that Tibet would be the last place to be hit by devastation, giving survivors, especially heads of state, ample time to get on board the Ark before disaster struck. And it is from this point of the story I started feeling for our procurement, sourcing, and supply chain folks. You’ll know the reason soon. 

Now let’s get to the bottom of the situation. But not so bottom to feel the heat from the earth’s core. We know in the movie that the earth’s complete destruction happened midway through 2012. So technically, right from the start of 2010, the team had almost two and a half years to complete the construction of the nine Arks. In a parallel world, we can say that the company building the Arks had a deadline of 2.5 years to launch the product, albeit with severe constraints. With all these constraints, how do you think they would have built the Arks?  

But before that…

Decoding the Ark

As per internet sources (movie fandoms), estimated Ark dimensions are as follows:

Length: 850 meters (2789 feet)

Width: 120-150 meters (393 – 493 feet)

Height: 110 meters (360 feet)

Weight: Approx 5 Megatons

Also, high-grade Titanium and steel formed the Ark’s hull. Based on the above Ark dimensions, and the materials used, the cost of the Ark’s hull construction is unimaginable. Apart from the hull, there are so many other components that go into manufacturing the Ark. The Bill of Material (BOM) list might touch a million items, and with nine Arks to be built, the total amounts to a staggering nine to ten million items – this somewhat justifies the €1,000,000,000 amount charged by selling additional VIP tickets. And with just 2.5 years deadline, there was no time to waste for the procurement, sourcing, and supply chain teams. All these intrigued me even further. 

New Product Development of the 9 Arks

The Ark is a new product and any new product development goes through a series of steps. As we have already seen in our earlier blog, the new product development process has the following steps:

    1. Idea screening and generation
    2. Product feasibility study (Business Case Signoff)
    3. Product Design and Development (High-level product design, Prototype testing, and optimization)
    4. Production Sourcing (The search for suppliers who can support the Time-in-Market phase – in this case, until the disaster) 
    5. Go-to-Market (GTM) ie. Launch before Disaster 

Well, for starters, the idea for the Ark is to carry around 100,000 people, animal species, and other supporting paraphernalia such as enough oxygen cylinders, food, and scientific equipment (to help them carry out new research in the newly formed world), etc. And, as we have seen from the movie, the Arks have to have high impact resistance (remember when Ark 04 collided with Mt. Everest, but still survived ?). 

The team would have to lock the specifications such as:

    1. Ark Dimensions 
    2. Engine Capacity, Power, etc.
    3. Raw material type for anything and everything inside and outside the Ark, etc.

Proto & Production Build & Role of Procurement

Ark | 2012 movie | ZumenOnce the teams finalize the design, they start the product design process. And after completing the first stage of design, teams run simulation tests. But it would have been a very difficult and time-consuming process with the availability of simulation technology then, compared to today. They would have needed a lot of supercomputer power and human resources. Also, when simulations are not possible for a few components, the next option is prototype testing. Aside from the prototype, there is the actual build – they have to finalize the suppliers and procure the parts. Procurement and sourcing teams need to find the correct supplier capable of supplying reliable parts before the end of time – midway 2012. Also, there was not any procurement software available then. The difficulty bar raised another notch. There is another constraint here, the supplier location and the raw material source have to coincide with the disaster prediction models created in the movie so that they do not vanish before the actual disaster happens. Also, it is a tall ask for the supply chain teams to ensure on-time delivery of the components since they are building in Tibet. 

Procurement & Supply Chain – The Real Heroes 

After all the struggles, the teams succeeded in building the 3 of the 9 Arks. Ark | 2012 movie | ZumenThe other 6 Arks remained unfinished because the disaster happened 6 months before the actual predictions. But, I could not imagine the pressure every team would have been under, especially procurement, sourcing, and supply chain teams. All said and done, 2012 is just a movie, but even in real life, the procurement, sourcing, and supply chain teams are under constant pressure. They are wearing multiple hats juggling between umpteen problems, and are literally in the hot seats. One thing is for sure, be it a simple bracket or a product as complex and humungous as the Ark, you need procurement software to handle the entire procurement and sourcing lifecycle. And Zumen is one software that can handle such complexities. You can reach out to us at [email protected] or schedule a free demo.  

Ark Images source:

3D image

2012 Film Wiki