Guest Blog: Jim Spittle, Chairman of the Barcode Standards Organisation GS1 UK

If you didn’t hear from me, you will have had a good Christmas!

Are you aware of what goes into having your parcels delivered safely and shelves stocked with turkeys this Christmas? Jim Spittle – known as the logistics industry’s ‘Mr Fix-It’, is President of The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport and Chairman of barcodes standards organisation, GS1 UK. He reveals why your happy Christmas relies on the logistics profession.

You might not have thought about it, but the success of your Christmas relies on the logistics industry. The parcel delivery market ParcelHero operates in, and the wider logistics industry, actually deliver Christmas.

It’s a little ironic, but logistics is one of the few jobs which, the better you are at it, the less you are noticed. In an ideal world the presents you order online or buy from a shop have all been delivered to the store or Distribution Centre in just the right quantities at just the right time. In the same way your turkey has found its way to the local butchers or supermarket, or is just waiting to be loaded on a van to your door.

Imagine the number of movements of items around Christmas, not forgetting Black Friday and Cyber Monday. When everything goes well you probably don’t give things a second thought. It’s only if a vital present should go missing or there are no Brussel sprouts to be found in any local store (perhaps no bad thing) that most of us become aware of the issues facing the supply chain at this time of year.

Christmas is for many retailers the busiest time of the year. For some of them, such as toy retailers, it can be worth a third of their year’s business. The fact that it takes place in the period when the worst weather, storms and snow, might hit our vital trunk roads, adds a little more spice to the mix for those working behind the scenes in logistics.

As well as being President of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport this year – which has given me a fascinating overview of the depth and spread of logistics in this country – I am also Chairman of GS1 UK – the barcode standards organisation. Most of us are familiar with barcodes from scanning items at self-checkouts – just before the voice says ‘Unexpected item in bagging area’.

In fact barcodes, together with GPS, RFID tracking chips and other new technologies, are all weapons in the growing arsenal logistics professionals are using to help ensure your Christmas runs as remarkably as possible. Courier companies such as ParcelHero will have been planning their Christmas activities for many months to ensure the growth in deliveries does not create complications. It’s the same for the wider logistics industry.

Not everything will go to plan, no one can anticipate every eventuality in any profession. The challenge for the people I represent is to make our role as unnoticeable as possible. We want to make that more famous delivery man, Father Christmas, look good by having the great majority of parcels and goods delivered as smoothly as possible by December 25th. The less you hear from myself and fellow professionals over Christmas, the better it should be!

Further information
For more information on The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport see website www.ciltuk.org.uk
For more information on GS1 UK see www.gs1uk.org

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