Blog > March 2016
The logistics industry has long had a problem communicating with the general public. Largely those outside the industry don’t know what we do, how we do it or the contribution logistics makes to their daily lives and the UK’s economic health. Yet the idea that goods need to be moved around isn’t a complex one, and at its most basic level even pre-school children know what trucks, ships and trains do. So what’s the problem?

Part of the problem is one of language. In the 1970s Basil Bernstein came up with ‘code theory’. This explained why working class kids did more poorly in language-based subjects. Berstein’s theory also applies to the logistics industry, however. He identified two types of ‘code’ or ways of talking, one for insiders and one for outsiders.

Restricted code is based on a shared understanding between the social group, assumptions about how the world works, organising principles and common experience. In just a few words, people can communicate a whole series of actions or relationships to those ‘in the know’ which would mean nothing to an outsider.

Conversely elaborate code does not expect the listener or reader to share the same knowledge or assumptions. Put simply, it puts things simply. It is more explicit, more thorough and doesn’t expect the listener to read between the lines.

Logistics is fraught with restricted code. A big part of the challenge of becoming a logistics journalist is not understanding the principles of the industry, but in learning to translate the way professionals in the industry talk. You must learn to speak a new language, one full of optimisation, scale, skellies and trunks. In my work I constantly strip jargon from case studies only to have the interviewee fight to replace it from a mistaken belief that it sounds more intelligent, more professional or communicates more thoroughly than the commonplace words I’ve substituted.

It doesn’t. What it does is exclude. It guarantees that the only people for whom your words have meaning are not only already within the industry but often within your sub-sector of the industry. Why does this matter? Doctors and lawyers all use restricted code and we live with it. Yes, but doctors and lawyers do not lack prestige, their role is not misunderstood and vilified by the general public and they do not have a recruitment crisis.

If logistics is going to improve its public image, win the support of voters and policy makers or entice a new generation of worker into employment, it needs to stop talking to itself.

(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)
Posted: 21/03/2016 12:40:10 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

What’s happened to planning permission in central London, or even planning? In the Blitz, more than 1m houses were destroyed or damaged. If you’ve sat on the top deck of a bus over the past few months (and with apologies to those who lived through the war or lost loved ones), you’d be forgiven for questioning whether those statistics were then or now – there are great holes in the ground everywhere.

In the March 2016 edition of the FTA’s magazine, Freight & Logistics, Natalie Chapman, FTA Head of Policy for London commented on the Mayor of London’s proposals for major new bike routes across the capital, saying “We are already seeing massive delays on Lower Thames Street due to the construction of the East-West Cycle Superhighway.” But the crucial thing is that it’s not just cycle superhighways, but Crossrail, major road improvements, reconstruction of junctions, a multitude of skyscrapers …

Delays in the city are now such that you wouldn’t believe that there was a congestion charge - while the congestion charge is an effective tool in making individuals consider whether they really need to drive in, it’s not going to work when the goods on that truck are required within the zone.

Back in 2010 there was a GLA publication ‘Determining the External Costs of Road Freight Activity in London’ by Nick Ennis which stated that “The construction industry is responsible for around 40 per cent of both HGV and LGV* travel in London.” And that was before the current construction boom.

*LGV presumably meaning Light Goods Vehicles here - don’t get me started!

In August last year, the FT carried an article about London dethroning Brussels to become the congestion capital of Europe, which specifically referred to the large construction projects currently being undertaken.
In the Freight & Logistics article quoted above, Natalie Chapman also commented “This is resulting in some companies putting more vans and lorries on London’s roads to deliver the same quantity of goods, either to comply with the maximum shifts required under EU drivers’ hours rules or to maintain customer service levels.” A vicious circle.

I am not anti-investment or anti-construction by any means, but there has to be some prioritisation before further permissions are granted either for public infrastructure changes or for private development. The impact on London’s congestion, and its knock-on effects on people trying to do their jobs, must be considered. Some of the current projects have to be finished before even more fresh ones are initiated.
Kirsten Tisdale is principal of logistics consulting company Aricia Limited and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport. Aricia has been an FTA member since 2002.

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(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 03/03/2016 12:36:54 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments