A Few Questions, Thoughts and the occasional Opinion

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Hey everyone, thanks for listening in today, I’m Marty with Warehouse and Operations as a Career.  We’ve covered a lot of ground over the last 27 weeks, everything from my thoughts on how to write our resumes to getting the attention of the light industrial recruiter and how to take control of our phone interview & the actual face to face meeting.  Man, I’ve really enjoyed our talks about quite a few of the Warehouse positions we may be interested in, really good jobs to break into warehousing at the general labor level and planning out our advancements, formulating our goals towards our career choices!  We’ve had some great interviews, and I’ve enjoyed covering the subjects and topics each week, boy our guest really enjoy what they do don’t they!

Your questions have been great, keep’em coming, it’s so interesting to research your topics and suggestions.  We had some scheduling opportunities for today’s guest, seems flights are being delayed everywhere, I’ll try and catch up to them next week.  That being said let’s get to a few questions that I’ve been asked or heard about over the last few weeks! First up

We hear something like this pretty often:

“What’s up with getting these warehouse jobs?  They advertise a position for like 13.50/hr and when I apply I’m just offered a job for like 10/hr. I can’t figure out temp agencies, I’ve been working in an auto parts store for almost 2 years and I was making 12/hr, I did everything in the store and I’m a hard worker.  I could learn to drive a forklift really quick, I’m a fast learner…..

O.K., I think it’s important that we understand how a temporary agency works.  As we learned from John in Episode 16 “Temporary Staffing Agencies” there’s really like three kinds of services. You have the Day Labor gigs, the temporary or short term assignments and then the temp to perm jobs.  In our world and what we’ll probably be dealing with to break into warehousing is the short-term assignments and more often than not the temp to perm jobs.

It’s expensive to train a warehouseman, especially to positions where we’ll be using equipment.  It seems these days more and more Facilities, both in Production & the Distribution Centers we’re seeing companies hiring Sourcing or Recruiting Agencies to find their talent or employees. These agencies are tasked with finding that experienced employee with a stable work history in the position.  They want someone that can hit the floor, be shown the companies process and procedures and be productive that first week.  We have to remember that $12.50/hr job we had we don’t have any more and that salary doesn’t necessarily move on with us to another field or position.

When we apply for a forklift position listed at $13.50/hr they’ll be looking for the most experience person they can find.  Their Customer has tasked them with finding someone that knows how to perform in the position and be productive in it as soon as they hit the floor.  Being offered the General Labor position more at the $10/hr rate is not necessarily a bad thing.  It gets us in the door somewhere and gives us the chance to impress our bosses with our work ethics.  Then it’s our responsibility to learn that job & start asking for others within the company, taking on more responsibility, learning the positions around us, getting those promotions.  You’ll be surprised how quickly we’ll advance within the pay grades!

A quick story, I know a gentleman that just 5 months ago lost his job in the retail environment.  He took a general labor position in a warehouse and a $2.50/hr pay cut from his previous job.  In just 5 short months he’s moved through 3 warehouse positions, learned to operate several different kinds of electric pallet jacks, received his 29cfr1910.178 training for free & has surpassed his old salary by $2.00/hr.  He’s working hard, learning everything he’s being exposed too and will probably be an order selector within the year with an earning potential of almost double his beginning salary.  Rarely is there going to be a short cut to the skilled positions within the warehouse, experience is all we can rely on to get us there, thankfully that training or education if you will is free and it doesn’t take all that long to graduate to the next position.  Remember our Management Team isn’t necessarily going to come to us about advancement, we’re doing a great job for them and they may be perfectly content with us staying where we are, I mean they don’t have to worry about our job getting done.  It’s up to us to make sure we let them know that we love what we’re doing but we want more, we want to keep on learning & advancing within the company!

Let me grab another question real quick – Here’s another recurring type question:

“You’re always talking about not getting on equipment if we don’t know how to operate it and 29CFR, how do we learn if we don’t use it?

A very good question!  Operating Powered Industrial Equipment isn’t all that hard but it can be dangerous.  We just need to be shown how it works, how to operate it safely and be observed for a while, given pointers and taught the do’s and don’ts really.  A bit about 29CFR1910.178, our Safety guy Joe’s explained it a bit in a few different episode’s and you can find the entire regulation at www.OSHA.gov, briefly I can share the high points right off their website: the easiest way to look it up may be to just put 29CFR1910.178 in your browser, I just pulled it up.

(web content)

It goes on and its many pages, there’s a lot of sections and it gives a lot of specific’s. A couple of things that’s important for today’s question and you’ll hear me say over and over, some of those opinions of mine, that Before we ever get on a piece of Electric or combustion powered equipment used in the warehouse we need to attend a 29CFR1910.178 training course by a certified trainer AND be on-sited and observed by a person certified to do so.  We’ll need to be recertified every 3 years & we should carry our card with us at all times when operating the equipment.  It’s important that we’re always careful and operate the equipment properly and in a Safe manner.  Should we ever be observed operating the equipment recklessly or improperly or have any type of accident we’ll need to be removed from the equipment and be retrained before we are allowed back on it & of course depending on what happened we could be reassigned.  As with any job, we need to do it properly & safely right?

Our employer will gladly train us on equipment usage, there operation is not that difficult but they need to be respected and we need to follow the rules & the law, protecting our Company and ourselves! A very good question and as you know I’m pretty passionate about Safety and equipment usage.

Another good question or statement is:

“I’ve been doing the same thing for like 3 months & nobody’s came to me about doing another job”

I personally feel like if something like that is happening we have to own a bit of that responsibility.  That sound negative, I don’t mean it that way but really, if were doing a great job, show up every day, on time and we’re participating and involved with the team, learning the positions working around us AND we’ve let our management team know we want more it’s just not going to go down like that.

Remember we hold some of the responsibilities to ensure we meet our personal goals, the goals we’ve set for ourselves & we can obtain and reach each of them.  If we’re doing everything right and have let our management team know what we want and nothing’s happening it’s perfectly alright to ask for that meeting with them, let’s find out what we need to do, what’s holding us back so it can be fixed and we can get started on our careers.

Let me see here, I think we have time for one more…..ok, here’s one :

Your always talking about advancement, do you mean other jobs or Supervisors and Managers?

Very good question, here at WAOC we love operations, Warehousing, Transportation, the Production and Distribution worlds.  There’s such great opportunity within them, I mean how many industries can you enter without a lot of formal education & really get paid while you’re trained & end up with a 6 figure salary and a member of Executive management.  I literally know people that’s done just that, had great careers & great lives.

I honestly think every position within warehousing and transportation can be that great career.  If you love what you’re doing & the pay will support your lifestyle every position we talk about is a career.  The great thing about operations is that the more one is willing to learn, the more responsibility we’re willing to take on, the more money we’ll make and the more investment our company will make towards us.

We’ll be talking a lot more about the positions of Leads, Supervisors, Managers, Directors and Vice Presidents in upcoming episodes.  Management is a great profession, it may not be for everyone, it’s a lot of responsibility and personal investment but hey, that’s the great thing about operations right, we can retire from a position we love.

Back to the question though.  Yep to both statements I think.  I do consider advancement as changing, wither its changing from Sanitation to Lumping or from Forklift Driver to Returns or any variation of all of above.  Sometimes we get hung up on money or an hourly wage, and certainly our pay is important but let’s not go down that money is everything rabbit hole.  Remember we’re not just working for a paycheck, we’re talking about our Goals & Careers here.  I’ve seen many people get tired of their position and in the eyes of their fellow employees take a step that’s perceived as going backwards just because it may pay a dollar less an hour.  That’s not necessarily moving backwards, we’re learning something different, and with it may come a whole another career and management pathway that we’ll enjoy much more than what we were doing right?

As we’ve all realized we have to work the rest of our lives & it’s important to us that we enjoy what we’re doing and that were challenged by our jobs, that along will keep us interested in them and we’ll keep reaching for more responsibility and knowledge!  In my opinion that’s another great opportunity with Operations, we will find something we enjoy and that we can be the best at, right?

I just thought of a conversation that I was a part of today, I’d like to throw it in here today, I feel it’s something we all should really think about.

You know we all sometimes get hung up on our hourly rate and paychecks each week.  Today I was involved in a conversation about how, in the staffing world, young men and women sometimes appear to be willing to change jobs and companies for .50 cents an hour.  I feel it’s important we’re sure we understand why we’re willing to go somewhere else for something like $1040.00 a year.  Even in today’s Corp driven world longevity is experience & there’s a lot to be said about loyalty to our company and our peers.  If we just don’t like what we’re doing, there’s several other positions and tasks right there beside us or under the same roof we may be qualified to do right?  When we change jobs, companies or industries for 50 cents an hour we need to think of all the other expenses and/or lost opportunities.  We may be driving farther, it doesn’t take many additional miles to burn up only $1040.00.  We’ll be starting over again at the bottom of the totem pole, Always!  We could end up spending more time in traffic or have to drive in a much more congested area, I despise traffic.  And if we have 6 months or a couple of years in with a facility we should already be on our management teams radar, they very well may already be forming plans for us.  Of course, just the opposite could be the case, work could be closer, we may have less traffic etc BUT any relationship we have with our peers or bosses will be lost, and all lost for .50 cents an hour.  All I’m suggesting is when making those kinds of decisions lets be sure and consider everything and not just an hourly wage.  WAOC is about Careers, and we’ve learned monies come with experience, education and us being the best at our given position, always planning on that next step.  It’s my opinion, in many cases, that in the course of a year, once everything’s considered, we’ll never see that $1040 increase on our W2.  We have a plan, several goals and our objective is that Career being identified in just a couple of years, right?

We’ll I’ve really enjoyed todays – Oh hang on, here’s one more quick question, we received

We’re asked “Your sound has changed did you get a new Mic?”

Actually, we’ve changed our setup about three times now and were on our 4th mic… Remember now, don’t judge us too hard on our audio skills, we have absolutely NO audio or podcast training what so ever.  We’re honestly just a few old Op’s men that’s walked the walk and simply just sharing our experiences, thoughts and opinions with the young men and women looking to get into an industry that can take care of them and their families, a Career they can love and retire from.  None of us or the people we interview for that matter are paid for doing these shows, we just enjoy researching, sharing and talking about operations.  So the answer is Yes, and we kind of like this mic, I hope we’re getting easier to listen too & we really hope you enjoy our content as much as we’re enjoying doing it!

I enjoyed todays Question & Answer time, I hope you had a good time and are able to take something away from today’s episode as well! And as always please shoot us over any subjects or topics you’d like us to get too.  You can email us! host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and please ask your friends or fellow workers to subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play, we’re on most Podcast App’s and TuneIn radio as well!  Your participation is what keeps us on our toes! Let’s each work a Safety thought or comment into our day tomorrow and share it with someone.  In our chosen professions, Safety has to be priority 1!!

The Returns & Salvage Departments

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Thanks for joining us today, we really appreciate you listening and all the Likes and Follows. The comments and questions we receive are really interesting & I hope we’re getting you the information and answers you need to plan out your careers & make informed decisions towards your jobs and advancement.  I’m Marty and welcome back to Warehouse and Operations as a Career, where we discuss and share experiences on some of the many Warehouse, Transportation & Operations positions each week, talking about everything from General Labor positions to Upper Management & how to use experiences, learned knowledge, keywords & self-education through the operations positions to advance or turn that Job into that Career!  We certainly don’t claim to be experts on any subject but we have lived it and will honestly share our experiences, thoughts and probably too many opinions on the subject’s each week.

Today I thought we’d talk about the positions of the returns and salvage departments.  I personally think these tasks are great positions, good to break into warehousing and transportation and both can be doorways into Management positions as well.  One of our listeners was asked if they’d like to move from Lumping or Unloading to the Salvage area, the question was if this was under the Sanitation department and would it be considered a promotion.  Of course every facility is structured differently but typically I’d answer no, in my experiences and what I see most of the time is they both normally fall under the Warehouse.  In the Distribution world Returns are usually generated through the Transportation tasks, or Sales and Will Call to a lesser degree & Salvage is a product of Shrink to the Operation.

Let’s talk about Returns for a minute.  Returns are brought back from the various deliveries or by sales and could include anything invoiced by the warehouse and never picked up or even a product brought back to the building by the customer or purchaser.  This area is typically separated from or away from the inbound and shipping areas.  Depending on your industry this could be a requirement by one of several regulatory agencies due to things like Lot Code or Production dating, batch or run numbers or things like country of origin even.  Some products require forms to be filled out and certain documentation restrictions like confirming the product is sealed and no evidence of tampering has occurred.

As Return associates it may be our job to confirm the item was removed from an invoice at the attempted point of delivery, probably apply a system or accounting code as to the reason of the return, assess wither it is viable and re-saleable and enter its count back into our Inventory System.  In a directed environment, meaning everything must have a receiving tag which besides just giving us a slot location we may have to collect lot numbers, expiration dates etc again so our system can track it.  Usually the returns process is turned each shift, meaning we’ll need to work hard to see that everything in our department is reviewed, invoice and billing was adjusted correctly & it’s receiving and Inventory procedures are complete.  In several facilities I’m familiar with it’s our job to properly put the product away as well, or get it to the selection slots.

The Salvage department is a separate area, some location locate returns and salvage in close proximity to each other but the workloads a kept apart.  Salvage doesn’t necessarily mean the way it sounds. In our examples we’re thinking of saving the product, or saving the loss of product or value, helping reduce the expense for our company really.

Say a case is damaged on the dock during loading, it’d be taken to the salvage area or if we’re running or hauling off the dock with a pallet jack and our load isn’t real secure and the corner case falls off and is damaged we’d take it to the salvage area or maybe if we’re operating a fork lift and we smash it, fork it or drop one we’d take it to the salvage area, or at least I hope we do what’s right and get it where it belongs, doing our jobs correctly will keep inventory correct making everyone’s job easier that would be touching it later on in the process.  Now don’t get me wrong, we hope none of these examples ever happen, what’s important is we learn from them, that we are always as careful with the product as we are our equipment and our peers, I mean if were working Safe, following all the procedures like lifting and handling the products properly, checking our loads before moving that first inch & always being aware of our surroundings and actions nothing will happen to our products or cases anyway right?

To answer our listeners question, Salvage usually does not fall under Sanitation, it’s a usually a warehouse function due to it needing to be recorded, its relation to inventory and the necessity to discard it or re pack it.  As to wither it’s a promotion, – I guess we have to define promotion, Merriam Webster states a definition as “the act or fact of being raised in position or rank :”  So many times we associate, or expect, that a promotion instantly means money, we can overlook the education or learning potential of an additional task or a few responsibilities. The pay rate of any position will vary from industry to industry and of course company to company & I don’t think we can just always apply pay to the promotion word.  In my opinion a promotion means I’ll get to learn something new, some form of responsibility will be added to me, I may be taught how to operate new equipment even, I really call that a promotion, the money will come!  As we discuss the Leads and entering management as Supervisors in future episodes we’ll define promotion a bit more in-depth but that’s how I feel, I mean we haven’t necessarily found our career or settled into our long term position just yet, we’re going to be taking advantage of every opportunity we can right now to learn the jobs around us and we’re raising our hands when anyone asks us to learn right?

In working the Salvage area it’s going to be our responsibility to identify what happened to the case or product so we can remove it from the Inventory System properly or code it correctly.  In many instances we may be able to save or salvage or protect or save some of the loss.  Say a case of ketchup, packed 12 bottles to a case comes back to our salvage area but only 2 bottles are broken.  We had another case last week damaged as well, maybe we can clean them up & make a whole case out of it to be resold.  Now we’ll need to make sure the lot numbers, dates and everything match etc but it may be just fine to combine them saving our company the loss.  Maybe we can even inchoate a program with the vendor to supply empty boxes, we could clean the product and re-box it.

Returns and Salvage both work closely with the Warehouse and Transportation areas, as well as Inventory Control.  The Finance departments, usually I/C will need to make the appropriate adjustments to inventory once we have re – packed, made whole or determined the case will be distressed or disposed of.

This brings us to the disposal of the case, box or piece.  Depending what Industry we’re working in this could be as simple as throwing it away in the dumpster or compactor if it’s a solid product like our ketchup example.  With recyclable items like paper, cardboard or plastics many operations utilize recycle bins or plastic & cardboard receptacles or even bailers to dispose cases or products.  Remember our example Employee Joe Character?  He’s working in the Foodservice Industry, in a Distribution Center.  Food products may fall into regulatory realms, many products may have to be distressed before disposal.  As an example –  you of course wouldn’t want someone taking a case of meat product out of a dumpster that had been thawed out or damaged, contaminated in any way so we’d need to insure it could not get back into anyone’s hands or consumed in anyway.  Different Items have different rules or procedures that must be followed and documented, be sure to follow them, it’s important and in many instances, it’s the law.

In many industries, our Salvage possibly can be sold to salvage companies even, another avenue to discard them.  Always follow your companies procedures and processes, if unsure be sure to check with your Supervisor or Manager with any questions.

I feel both of these positions are great ways to break into warehousing, we’ll probably be taught to use an electric pallet jack or rider jack, let’s remember though, yes you guessed it, not to ever get on any type of powered equipment or use any machine until we’re trained and certified to do so.  We will be working closely with several other departments, learn a bit about them, they very well may be our next stepping stone in the company.  Remember, let’s be that employee that’s noticed, be the best at our Returns or Salvage position, learn the positions or tasks that were working beside & let our management know we’re ready to take on more responsibilities.

I hope we gave you some information you can use today, please feel free to email us at host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com if we can answer any questions or to suggest a topic we could discuss or get some answers on.  Until next week, work safe, be safe, warm those muscles up pre-shift and after lunch, we need them to take care of us!

A Visit with Joe on PPE and Safety

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Today here on Warehouse and Operations as a Career we visit with Joe, our go to Safety man and discuss our thoughts and opinions on a few Safety Topics and Tools.  We’ll talk in general about PPE and their importance.  We’ll share a few questions that’s came up or been presented & share our experiences on a few of them.  I looked at a few statistics from www.bls.gov, a great and informational website, one of my favorites for researching, check it out when you have time.

I enjoyed our talk about:

“Why PPE’s are Important”

Steeltoe Boots, Shoes – Composite caps

Safety Glasses

Safety Vests

Respirators

And we’ll review a few stats I found at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm

I really enjoyed reviewing a few of the questions/comments regarding Safety as they relate to GMP’s and general topics such as:

SDS Stations –  know where they are located!

Eye wash & Shower Stations

Equipment batteries

Pallets – don’t stack them too high!

Wet Floor signs – one of our main safety tools

Dock Plates – use caution when working with equipment on them

Trailer Docks – NEVER jump out of a dock door!

Safety Meetings…….  It’s so important to utilize our safety meetings, everyone’s gathered together, it’s a great time to get noticed, use some keywords, share some knowledge you’ve picked up or ask some questions to learn more.

PPE’s are important – Get them, Wear them, it only makes sense, there’s not an excuse not to use them.

As we’re learning, it’s so important we continue to grow, continue to educate ourselves, use key words to get our Bosses attention, share what we’ve read or learned, GET NOTICED, GET ON HIS OR HER RADAR, we want that next promotion or next opportunity & Safety Knowledge is one of the most notable concerns to our managers.  If we’re good at our job, being productive AND displaying a Strong Safety Culture, instilling a safety culture in others, that next job is going to be ours, right?

Joe we appreciate you taking the time to talk with us here at WAOC, your coming back again now right Sir?

And a Thanks to each of you for listening in with us, I hope you enjoyed the topics today and they present value for you in some way or another.   Please email us your thoughts and comments to host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com or join our Twitter and Facebook feeds @WhseandOps.  Tomorrow let’s all bring up a Safety Topic at the start of shift meeting and let our Bosses know that we care!

Inventory Control – Warehouse and Finance

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Welcome back, we appreciate you checking in with us here at Warehouse and Operations as a Career, I’m Marty, sharing a few thoughts and opinions as well as my own experiences about Warehousing and Operations each week.  If you’ve checked out a couple of our shows you’ve probably picked up on the idea that I really enjoy the Industry, I love discussing its opportunities, its many tasks & turning those jobs into Careers.  It was brought to my attention that I’ve mentioned the department or task of Inventory Control several times recently so I thought we’d talk a little about it today!

Many people assume that Inventory Control is purely an AP/AR position or a task of the Finance department.  While true the Dollars, or the products worth & Cost is in their wheel house, these days, at least in the large Production or Distribution environments we in the warehouse play a very significant role, through item counts to identify Shorts or Not On Truck and miss-shipped issues to Cycle Counts, Re-Packs and verifying warehouse and driver damages and operational shrink.

Many years ago, well not that long ago I guess, Inventory was kept on file cards, when product came in it would be recorded on a card, maybe in a flip card binder, with the date it came in or was Received, then as product was sold it would be recorded with the date of sale, the quantity, maybe even the invoice number would be recorded.  Kind of a running record if you will, product and quantity received, quantity sold and of course any damages or shrink would be deducted and noted as well.  We’ve come a long way since those days, this is one of those departments, one like most thankfully, that has benefited from technology, computers and systems.

There’s so many things that can affect our Inventories.  Receiving errors, there rare these days due to how we receive and verify merchandise through SUPC and Items codes that can be verified using systems and scan equipment though.  Then of course we have warehouse shrink, shrink includes things like damages that occur through the unloading process, hauling or forklift functions, the Selection Process, loading and delivery even.

Another component of shrink is sometimes Spoilage, product that may go out of date due to miss-rotation through slotting or not rotating the item with FIFO or First In First Out processes.  In my opinion, the op’s prospective I guess, there’s 2 types of Spoilage accounting, the warehouse side that we just spoke of and then a procurement or merchandising side such as over buying, and sometimes it can land in a Sales bucket or account due to it not moving quick enough or the sales forecast has changed or was incorrect.  More about spoilage later, let me get back to our warehouse side or duties as it relates to Inventory Control I guess.

Today’s distribution centers, and production facilities as well will probably be utilizing some kind of Inventory system.  There’s hundreds of them available, many of our larger companies have their own propriety systems, of course these are quick and very efficient as there built to our exact needs without any additional steps, punches or processes to get the information needed for our individual houses or opco’s.

Most of today’s systems can eliminate the need for closing the facility for a day through utilizing an accounting practice known as Cycle Counts.  Not being an accountant myself I won’t venture into the rules & regulations governing accounting at all but we can discuss what Cycle counting means to us on the floor or as warehouse men and women.

I use to hate Inventory days, we literally closed the facility for the day, usually over the weekend and literally counted every box in the warehouse, by item and by pallet lol.  Salesmen, merchandisers, actually everyone would come in, we’d each be assigned aisles and would take off counting every case, we’d bring the count sheets to a control table where the item would be tallied.  Then we’d get more sheets to go count different items or be sent back out to recount something others had already counted lol.  It would be a long day, a very inefficient system time wise but hey that’s how it was done.

Today Cycle Counts are a daily function, very efficient & they help identify and capture how a loss has occurred.

In many facilities, especially the larger centers the Finance department will send a set or list of items to be counted every day to an Inventory Control person to go out to the aisles and count the cases.  Most of these facilities will be utilizing a Directed System, meaning the system will give us the pick slots AND Reserve locations to find the product and verify that count as recorded.  The counts are assigned in such a manner that in a year or every six months or every quarter, what every your particular accounting responsibilities are, every item will be counted and inventory will be in sync and accounted for.

Other counts that are given to us may be to determine wither a case that transportation said was short or not on the truck was actually selected or not.  If were a case over it would be tagged as not selected by the warehouse or a warehouse error and if the count is correct then it would be tagged to transportation as it was selected and loaded, possibly given to the wrong stop.

Then of course all damages have to be recorded as well, we’ll have an assigned area to drop off any damaged product so Inventory control can deduct it properly and assign the error, or cost it out to the proper task like unloading, hauling or pallet running, the forklifts etc, not to assign blame necessary but to cost it out correctly.  Transportation will have an area for any damages or returns to go to as well so those cases can be deducted properly.

As Inventory Control we will probably be using powered equipment, pallet jacks and even forklifts, so yes we’ll need to go through the 29CFR1910.178 class and let’s remember, we NEVER want to get on any piece of powered industrial .equipment or operate any machine that we haven’t been trained to do so. I know I harp on it but hey, it’s the law & we each need to protect ourselves for our families’ right!  A couple of the PPE’s or Personal Protective Equipment we may be utilizing could include Steeltoe boots or shoes, I personally prefer boot’s as we’ll be working around pallets, bending over into the bays or pick slots and we have much more ankle support and protection than with just the shoe types, I usually wear my steeltoe shoes when I’m just walking the warehouses but always put my boots on when I’ll be working around pallets or using equipment.  A good bright Safety vest is great in this position as well, we’ll be in the aisles working around pallet jacks and lifts, it’ll help them see us and probably make them feel more at ease knowing we’re wearing them as well.  Maybe a pair of Safety Glasses also, they’ll come in handy should we be doing any lift work, looking up while retrieving a pallet from the reserve locations.  Use whatever equipment your facility requires and remember, there to protect us from harm, lets wear them.

Inventory Control is a great job, an important task.  We’ll need to be accurate and detail orientated, and it’s a good position to transition into other tasks.  I’ve known many men and women that moved into Pallet Running, Order Selection, even Fork positions and a couple into transportation as drivers.  Actually I just thought of an individual that moved over to the routing department and did very well with it.  It’s even a good pathway into the AP/AR departments, I have a longtime friend that started as a Cycle Counter who’s now running an Inventory Control Dept on the finance side, he’s made a great long-term Career out of it!

It’s also a great position to transition into from the warehouse, I’ve seen warehouse clerks, forklift drivers and a Quality Control warehouseman transfer into Inventory Control and made Careers out of it, really enjoyed their positions and were very successful with them.

I hope we’re picking up on the theme here, all the positions we’ve talked about throughout this series of episodes are great positions and Jobs, every job teaches us something we can use to learn other tasks BUT there all potential careers for us as well.  What’s important is to do something we enjoy, are the Best at it, show up every day on-time and do the job to the best of our ability right?

If you have any questions about the position or anything we talked about today please send us an email to host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and I’ll get us an answer.  As always, feel free to share your experiences on our Facebook and Twitter feeds & catch up on any missed episodes on iTunes, Google Play or TuneIn Radio or the website warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com.  Please remember Safety is our first concern, our first responsibility in any position, let’s insure we have a long and productive life!

The Driver Helper Position

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Welcome back to Warehouse and Operations as a Career, we had a question from a young man interested in becoming a driver but he wasn’t excited about working his way up through the warehouse.  He’d spoken with a friend that was a Driver Helper with a Foodservice Distribution Center, thought he’d like that work and was wondering could that be a pathway to becoming a successful delivery driver.  My answer would be Absolutely!  Marty here with WAOC and today we’ll explore a couple of different scenarios or starting points I’ve heard about that was great jobs to break into the transportation or delivery field.

A Driver Helper position is pretty much just what it states.  This person helps the driver with everything from loading the trailer, organizing the freight by stop, wheeling or dollying the product off the truck, into the stop, shelving the product at the customers to handling the invoices and accounting for any returns.  The job varies by company, some organizations I know of may limit what all a Driver Helper can do but most the facilities I’m familiar with it’s the driver that directs the helper.  I think the Driver Helper position is a great way to explore ones thoughts about being a delivery driver.  As we spoke of in episode 22, the important thing is learning the product, which can be accomplished by handling it, handlining it in the warehouse or actually unloading it at the customer’s location right?

Driver Helper is typically called or listed as a general labor position, and it’s a good job and one of the tasks I feel is an important job.  But if I’m interested in driving it can also be a fantastic springboard to that Driving Career bringing with it a host of opportunities.  As we’ve mentioned it will afford us a hands-on view of the Drivers job, learn something about customer service at the Account or Customer level, and this is an advantage over working in the warehouse approach something we can’t really get working from inside the warehouse.  We’ll learn our Companies product line, the importance of the delivery & how to handle situations as they come up in the field.

To succeed in this position it’s important to follow the directions of our Driver, stay ahead of the stops regarding separating out the next stops product, stacking down the load to avoid damages and making it easy and efficient to check off the invoices, wheel the freight into the account and get back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.  This is hard work, yep, there’s a lot of sitting and being still in between stops but when the trucks not moving we are, the works hard, we’re finger printing every case meaning picking up and moving every box, several times before getting it delivered, stored and signed for. Remember delivering it is only part of the job, the driver is responsible for the invoice and its payment as well!

There’s actually a rhythm and process that develops with a good helper and the driver, once a good, hard working helper is trained by a driver that driver will want to work with us all the time, I’ve seen drivers hold up their routes before to get their usual helper.  And that’s the relationship we want right?  We want them to share how hard of a worker and how knowledgeable we are with the management team! Again I want to mention how important it is to be on-time each and every shift we’re assigned too, particularly in this type of position as others are relying on us to start their task as well. Remember it’s important to BE the employee ready and able to get the job done right?

Another great thing about this position is training is not a long and drawn out procedure either, we’ll need to learn how to read the individual labels or invoices, depending what identifiers we’ll be using to find the next stops product, how to stack the items where the driver can just scoop up the stack with his/her two wheeler, maybe how to set up and attach a ramp on the trailer so the loaded two wheeler can be ran to ground level and how to unload, shelve or rotate product as instructed by the driver.  Some driver helpers are trained on the electric pallet jack to facilitate the loading or unloading of pallets and its operation as well.  Yes, I know we mention it all the time but that means running through a 29CFR1910.178 class, remember, no matter what position we have NEVER get on a piece of equipment that we have not been trained on!  Speaking of equipment, we’ll be using a two wheeler or delivery dolly, an amazing piece of equipment, in the hands of a professional its efficient and very maneuverable – in the hands of someone with no training its dangerous to ourselves and others, as well as to the product, door jams and walls!  Learn to use it, take it slow, don’t load it up with weight and expect to be able to handle it right off the bat.  I know helpers that buy their own two wheelers too, you’ll want a good one, like any kind of equipment or tool, I feel you’ll get what you pay for.  I’ve known Drivers that carry 5 or 6 with them daily.  I won’t mention any brand names, there’s several good manufactures and several different models.  A good, strong and light weight breakdown dolly is probably the most versatile, there’s even models with brakes on them, these more expensive units can really come in handy.

As we’ve discussed the Driver Helper position will expose you to the Drivers world.  True, he or she has all the responsibility of the load, the accounts and the equipment but you’ll experience that, you’ll learn about  some of the frustrations or the joys of traffic depending on how you look at it, quite a bit about Customer Service and how to handle different situations as they arise.  And most importantly, or at least what I think is useful, you’ll get a sense of the responsibility and patience needed to be a great driver.

If you’re just getting started in operations & have thought of driving before this is the perfect break through position for you, and there’s several avenues or directions you can take after just a few short years of doing it.  You’ll become very comfortable in the fleet department, fueling islands and procedures, maintenance areas, possibly even routing and load mapping, sizing and cubing out a truck.  After we prove ourselves and our wiliness to work hard and our dependability and share our goals of driving the company may work with us and help us get some experience by moving some trailers around, spotting trailers or working with the yard mules or haustlers.  Last week we spoke about the rewards awaiting in the Supply Chain Management & Logistics worlds. Once again, it’s all out there, all we have to do is want it and reach for it right!

We’ll be talking more about transportation & this position as we break out into the different industries, it is a good doorway into a long lasting career!

I hope we answered a few of your questions today regarding this position and how to use it to your advantage or as a stepping stone to that Delivery position.  Thanks for listening in today, pass on our WAOC information to a friend, lets learn from as many as we can!  Share your thoughts and comments to the web page warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and participate on our Twitter & Facebook feeds @WhseandOps.  Have a great week, be productive and most importantly Put Safety First!