DAYTON, Ohio -- For the Uniform Code Council, the question of supporting Standard Interface Language as an electronic data interchange protocol seems to be more how than why.
The executive committee of UCC met here in mid-January to hash out how it should back SIL, even though the council will not issue an official decision on whether to support the language until sometime after UCC's Board of Governors meets on April 29.
"There was unanimous agreement that we should move ahead on the SIL programs," said Hal Juckett, UCC president, of the Jan. 16 meeting.
"I think approval is academic now," said Thom Shortt, SIL advocate and director of retail services at Edison, N.J.-based wholesaler Twin County Grocers.
SIL supporters, mainly wholesalers and independents, believe the language will simplify the flow of data between retailers and wholesalers.
UCC backing is considered essential to eliminate confusion between trading partners about whether SIL or other EDI protocols should be used in certain situations. Confusion could arise because a code that stands for one thing in SIL could mean something entirely different in Uniform Communications Standard, which is used heavily by manufacturers.
"We have to have a compatibility check with the UCS dictionary to make sure that the dictionaries are in synch," Juckett said. "We have to make sure we don't have different data elements standing for the same thing."
Juckett said to properly support SIL, UCC would have to install an SIL data base, publish a data element dictionary and set up a forum to iron out problems that may arise once the language is more widely applied.
Juckett and UCC are especially concerned about outlining what data would be transmitted via SIL.
"People have to know what messages would be sent via SIL and what via UCS," Juckett said. "The one thing we don't want to let happen is to have overlap."
Juckett and Twin-County's Shortt agreed that SIL would likely be used in the wholesaler-to-retailers leg of the distribution pipeline. UCS would continue to dominate in the manufacturer-to-wholesaler leg and in direct-store-delivery scenarios.
Juckett and Shortt will discuss SIL and its uses at an educational seminar at the Food Marketing Institute's Marketechnics conference in Tampa, Fla., next month.