Peak trading: Nothing else can drive such terror into the hearts of logisticians

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This month, it felt topical to share a couple of articles on the most dreaded of dark arts – planning for peak (and recovering afterwards!). Nothing else can drive such terror into the hearts of logisticians – each year peak trading looms on the horizon, and storm clouds gather as the autumn leaves fall.

I’m speaking, of course, from the perspective of someone who cut her teeth in the grocery industry – an industry which has a typical seasonal peak. Every Christmas, I cancelled holidays, pulled in overtime, and buckled up for whatever would come our way.

At our core, logisticians are problem-solvers, fire-fighters, and innovators. We love a challenge, and there’s certainly a thrill that comes with delivering peak volumes. However, there’s an impact to running at 100 miles an hour, and the exertion that many of us put into delivering peak simply isn’t sustainable long-term.

The next couple of articles talk about planning for peak and recovering afterwards, with a focus on delivering the operation and building a more robust plan for the future. Before this, I’d like to bring some attention to how the intensity of the Christmas peak can impact our colleagues – our most important assets.

Christmas can be a very difficult time for our colleagues – the days are shorter, and expenses are higher. Increased pressure at work only adds to the stresses of this period.

In recent years the importance of mental health, standing squarely next to physical health, has finally seen the recognition it deserves. As a nation, and as an industry, we are becoming more aware of how critical mental well-being is, what impacts it, and what we can do to improve it.

In this period of intense operational requirement, how are you listening to your colleagues and responding to their concerns? What are you doing to bring some of the seasonal celebrations into the workplace and ensure that you are looking after your colleagues?

If you’re going to ask more of them over the coming weeks (and let’s be honest, we all rely on a bit of a ‘muck in’ attitude at times), make sure that you’re giving back as well. It will make all the difference to your workforce, and it reduces the risk of burnout as we head into January.

Operationally, you might be thinking that it’s a bit late to be planning now, and I wouldn’t disagree with you – planning should have begun with last year’s Post-Peak Review (PPR) about 12 months ago. However, there are still some important takeaways from this month’s articles that you can apply now, and as you move into 2023.

John Henderson’s article, ‘Tis the season to… have a robust peak plan, focuses not only on creatirig a plan for peak but also on monitoring that pin as you approach peak trading.

Nik Pamplin’s article focuses on preparing your supply chain operations for the next high-intensity trading season. It gives you some steps to apply in January when you have the ability to re-group and reflect.

I hope you find something valuable in each article and that this year’s peak is successful and as kind to you as it can be.

A very merry Christmas to you all.

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