Should I choose Distribution or Production

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Marty here with Warehouse and Operations as a Career.  Hope you’re having a great week and I want to thank you for checking in with us today. I was asked last week, by a young gentleman named Brad with a background in the Restaurant Industry, what kind of a Warehouse job was the easiest to get into.  He was looking to make more money and be able to get more hours.  He’d been working in the same restaurant, for a major chain, for about 3 years.  He had started with them right out of High School working in the back of the restaurant, really enjoyed it for his first year, then was moved to the front.  He is presently a lead waiter & feels his bring home pay is about right for the work he’s doing but he’d like a bit more, more in the form of compensation, more hours and more Opportunity.  He reminded me of our example employee, remember Joe Character from our first episodes, he too wanted more & was kind of introduced to distribution by the foodservice delivery drivers that delivered to the restaurant he was employed with.  Brad’s done a bit of research regarding the positions available in his area and was introduced to us here at WAOC by a friend who listens to our shows.  His friend works for a Distribution Warehouse, been there about 5 months & is really enjoying the work, he’s on the dock, unloading containers.  He’s enjoying the physical aspect of the job, the hours fit his schedule & he’s excited about everything he’s learning.  Brads been looking at the job postings, several facilities are hiring in his area, both Distribution Warehouses and Production Facilities.  Although Brad has a friend at one of the distribution facilities, with so many openings around town he’d like to know our thoughts, and did we have a preference or believe one type of facility was better, or offer more opportunities than the other.

First I’d like to thank Brad for listening in with WAOC, and applaud him for doing his homework or researching the different facilities and positions being offered.  You know going out and getting a paycheck is usually pretty easy, we can usually find something, but here at WAOC we really believe it’s important that we will enjoy our job, and the work we’ll be doing & that there’s advancement and raises in our future, preferably our short term future, and with just a bit of planning, research and initiative we can all but insure we land at the right company and for the right reasons.

To answer the question “Do we have a preference or is there one type of facility or industry better than the other I’d answer, absolutely not, in my experiences, both Distribution & Production, and all the task involved with each can offer great jobs & long term Careers.  It’s always nice to have a friend working with you of course but I think we each have to settle in with something we enjoy and fits our needs.  After all we’re going to make new friends where ever we’re at, it’s more important we do something we enjoy instead of possibly doing what our friends find interesting.

Distribution is great, and will typically offer us tasks such as Warehouse Sanitation, Unloading, Loading, Pallet Running, and it may expose us to different types of Powered Industrial Equipment like electric pallet jacks, Floor Scrubbers, sit down forklifts or stand-up lifts like the reach trucks, slip-sheet or clamp trucks.  Order Selecting may be one of our goals in a distribution facility or a transportation position, being a driver helper is a great entry level position into the delivery world in distribution.  And there’s several warehouse positions that can lead us into the office, accounting or admin areas like Inventory Control, Salvage or loss recovery, Returns Departments, Routing, or assigning stops for delivery etc.  And of course a host of Lower, Mid and Upper management opportunities are waiting on us.  That’s one of the great things about any warehousing function, there’s plenty of directions to go and advancement is honestly up to us.  As we’ve discussed, practically everything we’ll use today, almost everything material thing that we see has been through a Distribution Center and was delivered on a Truck by a Driver.

Production Facilities offer just as many tasks or positions and opportunities.  We’ll be creating components of or pieces to products or units themselves.  Something I enjoy about Production is the organization skills learned, the team work that’s involved in some production areas.  Wither were producing units or in the service sector of production it’s always nice to see an end accomplished.  Typically there may be fewer Powered Industrial Equipment opportunities like electric pallet jacks and forklifts to learn but there may very well be many other machines, mixers, very niche or specific motored mechanical opportunities to master.  I’ve had the opportunity to see a large portioner machine, it had several different compartments for spices, flour and meals and an employee would load them from 25 & 50 pound bags, the machine would be set or configured to volume control ounces of the products into a mix which was moved onto another station for packaging.  Another really neat machine, and it was huge was a dried bean packager, where the beans were packaged in 50lb bags, the bags stacked on a pallet and a runner would take the full pallets to the shipping department. Oh, and a Carper cleaner, where large rolls of carpet are threaded through a washer, its cleaned, dried and fluffed, re-rolled and ready to go back out!  Let’s not forget, we’re still in warehousing so the tasks of Quality Control, Inventory Control, Loss Prevention, Damages etc are on the table as well.  And it still takes Leads, Supervisors and Managers to oversee and plan operations, Production can offer us great advancement and management opportunities as well.

And Building Maintenance, It takes a strong Facilities Department to keep any type of Warehouse up and running.  As we’ve learned, someone has to keep all that Powered Equipment and conveyers and machines running as well as the electrical pieces, lights, air and heat right?

So how do we decide what to do, what job to apply for?  I know when I was looking for that first job, I looked for a paycheck, any job was fine.  Today I feel we have to have a bit more targeted plan, companies are looking for experience, experience in the particular task we’re applying for. Productivity is a driving force in the decisions being made by the hiring agents or recruiters we’ll be meeting with.  And as we’ve heard from a few of our guests it seems more and more Companies are reaching out to Sourcing or Staffing Companies to find that experienced talent.  With the cost of training being so high with some positions it does create a short cut for them.  So I believe we need to know what type of task we’d enjoy and what kind of money we want to make so we can get that experience and skill to get hired on and have that long term job.  Once we’re exposed to all the opportunities we’ll turn that into a long term Career.

By now you’ve probably realized I think Operations is a wonderful job and Career.  For us that are through with our first jobs and ready to move on, college or specialized fields or paths aren’t on our minds just yet warehousing or operations can certainly afford us a very enjoyable, long term, well-paying avenue to a great life and plenty of advancement opportunities.

I’d suggest looking at what we need.  Location will of course be at the forefront of our list I’d have to believe, we don’t want to be spending too much of our time or fuel on getting to work or from work, our pay, the hourly rate or weekly salary, of course that’s a integral part of this equation but as we’ve discussed let’s not get to hung up on an specific amount here.  I mean if our job is across the street from our house we could probably accept a couple of bucks less an hour vs having a 30 mile drive each way, that’s going to eat up much more fuel and time or cost us more hourly.  It’s really all about what we have left at the end of the month or what is left at the end of the year.  Let’s remember our net worth isn’t what we make hourly, it has to be combined with what it cost us to live and what’s left at the end of the week.  And then I feel we need to look a year down the road, what is our plan.  Training is education and we’re getting paid instead of paying for that education.  I think every position we work is providing a free education to our next position, which may very well pay us a bit better.

Before making myself a target list of Companies to apply with I’d do a little research on them.  With the Internet at our fingertips its easy to check out some employee reviews, the competitions reviews, check out the Industry.  It’s so easy to see how many employees they employee, Benefits offered, Insurances being offered.  And it never hurts to call with a few questions, they should be happy to answer them, after all their looking for employees, have an ad out there so they’re going to be interested in us.

Now, as we’ve talked about before, the important thing is to get our foot in the door.  If we’ve identified a strong company we’d like to work for, they offer the positions we want and the benefits are to our liking we have to get hired on before we can go from unemployed to employed.

If we don’t presently possess the skills required for the wage we want with them, let’s use them to learn it.  Be open to accept another position at a lower rate, once we get any position with them we’ll show management how hard we’ll work, what kind of a job we can do for them & we’re going to ask questions, participate with the Team and learn not only our task but the other positions around us & let our manager know we have other positions on our mind and we’re going to earn them and we’re patiently waiting on that next promotion, patiently within reason of course!

One thing I’d like to bring up again, we spoke to it a couple of weeks ago, lets really think through leaving one job for another just for like 25 or 50 cents an hour.  Just this week I spoke with a gentlemen that was commenting how he now was making 42 cents more an hour but was bring home less than the job he left to make more money.  What happened with him was toll roads we’re in the way and he was use to getting about 5 or 6 hours a week overtime and at his new job there’s little to none.  Now he wasn’t at his previous job all that long so he didn’t have a huge investment or relationship ties but I’m not sure the switch has paid off so far.  We certainly have to work at a facility that fits us, and where we fit in with the company as well but I just feel it’s important we really look at the Big Picture when we’re thinking pay rates and that we don’t get hung up on that hourly wage or dollar amount.  I’ve always been big on adding in any benefits offered, my travel time etc and maybe looking at my weekly pay or yearly W-2 wages instead of that weekly rate.  Opportunities for advancement or promotions to other tasks have to play a part in that decision also, what quicker way to experience an increase or get a raise than stepping up to a task with more responsibility or using another piece of equipment or additional machines right?

I again kind of got off the beaten path, but to sum it up, most any warehousing job, in any industry, can serve us well.  If we love the operations and logistics worlds we’ll have some great jobs & we’ll turn them into outstanding Careers.  The key is to do our research, interview the Company as well as give them an interview, work hard, be on-time for our shifts and keep reaching for more.  Op’s will give us what we need to secure a future for our Families and ourselves, a work life we can retire from!

I hope I answered the question today & offered up a bit of value to you, we really appreciate all the questions and comments each week and feel free to reach out as well with any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share with the group, Participation is learning, or always has helped me!

Until next week, Properly Prepare for our Shifts, wear our Personal Protective Equipment & be that Safety Conscience Employee, our work peers, Family and loved ones are counting on us!

Our First Leadership Roles

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Welcome back, I’m Marty with Warehouse and Operations as a Career.  Today let’s touch on Leadership, we’ve discussed several different positions within the warehouse and transportation environments and of course what we’re interested in, or our goal is to make money, have a long term job that we can turn into a Career.  Here in a bit we’ll be visiting with Jeremy, I can’t wait to hear his advice and thoughts about today’s topics and his experiences, I think you’ll find them very interesting!

We’ve talked about how to break into Operations, through an entry level position and the importance of, or how to learn the tasks around us, take advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to us, really participate in our start up meetings and be noticed by our Managers, meet & exceed productivity requirements and let them know what our goals are and we’re ready for more responsibility.  Our attendance and learned knowledge or on the job education will get us there, I honestly believe Operations can offer us that Career!

I’ve been very fortunate in my career, I’ve worked with and had the opportunity to promote many people into Lead Positions and Supervisor roles and on to Directors, several that went on to V.P. positions in Warehousing, Transportation and VP’s of Operations.  One takes on more responsibility with each new job, but as we’ve discussed there’s a direct correlation with more money and more Experience &  responsibilities!

Several of us may be about ready to graduate into a Lead Position, we’ve shown our management team that we’re dependable, met every objective given to us and we understand our position and the positions connected to ours, what happens before we handle the product and where it goes after we’ve completed our task.  By now our Supervisor should know, we’ve had several talks with them, that we want more responsibility and will apply ourselves and perform as we’re directed.

Many times, or in my experiences, the Lead Position is an hourly position, usually comes with a bit of additional pay to accept a bit of responsibility regarding other employees.  In both the Distribution and Production worlds it could be very much a working role.  A few of the additional responsibilities may be communicating direction from Supervisors, maybe tasks like keeping Rosters and Schedules and overseeing projects for management, things like that.  We won’t have to usually worry about reporting or financials but we’ll need to keep our Supervisor up to speed or in the loop with our teams progress and goals. This is another entry level position, an entry level position into Management.

The Supervision role is the next step in Management, many times I feel its misunderstood or entered into a bit lightly on our part.  Usually its our first experience into the Salary world.  We’ve always compared our hours worked with the money we made, at least in our minds and at a subconscious level anyway.  By now we should really enjoy our tasks, I mean we enjoy the work we do, the industry we’re in and this may be the next step in our Goal Path.  Let’s talk a bit about Supervision.

We’ve been working Hourly, meaning we’re paid x number of dollars an hour, and there’s an overtime component added to it if we work over x number of hours each day or week, depending where we work, and our weekly pay fluctuates weekly depending on how many hours we work each week.  When we go salary, many times, our first thought is I make more money weekly than your offering!  Let’s look at our new position, I know several facilities that calculate that starting salary based on a dollar amount based on a 45 hour week.  Now of course if we generally work 40 or 43 hours a week we consider that a raise, right?  Of course, if we work 46 or 48 hours a week we think we lost money.  But now we may be in a position to control how long we work, I mean we can create efficiencies to get the job done quicker or implement all those ideas we had when we were on the floor and working for the old boss right?  Seriously though, we need to add in the education we’re getting, again for free, and all that were going to be taught and the experiences we’ll be exposed too . A lot of times there could be Bonuses paid at this level as well, when goals or objectives are met incentives may apply.  This is the first step in our next set of goals, and hey, it’s needed if our goal is that VP Position!

One of my favorite quotes, at least regarding leadership is by Dwight D Eisenhower, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” and on the flip side of that he also left us with another quote, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not Leadership”

One of the most challenging things we’ll face in our Lead and Supervisor positions is working with and Leading the same people we use to work beside.  We have some responsibilities now, those friendships will change, they have too, we can’t favor one over the other.  We have a job to do, they have a job to do & you are responsible for getting it done.  I feel we should just look at it as two types of relationships, a personal one and a business one.  We just have to remember Business has to come first, and if we learn to be good leaders we’ll know the difference.

We’ll be talking a lot more about Leadership in upcoming episodes, I love management roles, and feel free to shoot us an email with any questions or thoughts you have about Leadership and we’ll discuss them on here or our blog. We talk quite a bit about Leadership on our Twitter feed each week as well, we see some really good articles there.

Today we have Jeremy joining us for a bit, Jeremy has had a great Career in Operations, like us he came up through the warehouse, held many positions up to and including Director Operations at a large Distribution Facility and has ventured into Sales now, working with several light industrial industries.

Jeremy Thanks for visiting with us a few minutes today Sir!

So Jeremy, tell us a bit about your work history and how you got started in Operations?

I have been associated to warehousing and distribution since I was too young to be working in one.  My father was in the industry for over 35 years and use to take me and my brothers to his warehouse and make us sweep the floors when he was getting ready for inspections.  I officially stated working in a warehouse when I was 18 and spent 18 years as a part of a proprietary based food distribution warehouse. Within that time frame I did every job you could imagine on the warehouse floor and always prided myself to try to be one of the best.

 

18 Total Years

Selector – 5 Years

Leadman – 3 years

Supervisor – 4 years

Warehouse Manager – 3 years

Director of Operations – 3 years

By the time, I reached the director Job I had roughly 150 employees that I was responsible for, ran a building that was 165,000 square feet, and serviced over 50% of the nation as far as a delivery radius goes, with our farthest-reaching point being Anchorage Alaska

That’s a great accomplishment Jeremy & the blueprint we’re always discussing here at WAOC.  We’re all interested in landing a Career, now of course that Career may be any position we really enjoy or we may have a goal of Management and working towards that.  What do you look for in that solid employee or what defines leadership qualities to you and what do you look for?

I always use to tell my hourly associates that had an interest in advancement into leadership one key thing.  Anyone can be taught the systems and clerical portion of the job if they have the desire to learn, however the true sign of a leader is your ability to have others follow you.  All the best leaders I have known had a great talent at engaging with their employees and getting them to believe in the same goals as them.  Once you have everyone striving to accomplish the same thing as a team you will be amazed on what you can achieve.

Well put Sir, Being Honest, Fair and being a good listener will go a long way in becoming a leader!

In today’s markets do you feel operations still affords those great opportunities it did in our days Sir?

That is an interesting question and I would have to say yes.  I am a firm believer in the fact that the knowledge gained in an operations career is something that is very valuable.  The great thing about an operations career is that there are so many different avenues you can pursue within one employer to expand your knowledge base and advance your career.  A career is all about what you make it to be, and if a person truly applies themselves than they will attain their goals.  Personally, I have been able to take all the things that I learned throughout my tenure in operations and utilize it to work in the sales industry.  My knowledge base allows me to help my clients, by providing distribution specific solutions for all of their operational needs.

I agree with every point you spoke too, those careers are there and it’s really our responsibility to reach for them, learn everything we can, educate ourselves and – really just go get them!

Could you share your thoughts on the technologies in our field, the WMS systems and all the unloading and selection systems being used today?

Warehouse technologies have advanced so much in the last 20 years it truly is amazing.  The general premise of a warehouse management system or WMS, is to automate the process of tracking, measuring, and monitoring the functions of a warehouse.  Every facility that has a complete WMS is one giant WIFI network that uses Radio Frequency based equipment to send and receive data.  This equipment allows information to be directly sent into the WMS versus having to be written down and hand keyed in by a clerical position.  Right now, there are several different variations on these WMS’s, however they have all been built to accomplish the same thing and they just have different forms of data capture.

For instance, a few examples of the data capture by category are

Tracking – Inventory Levels, Shelf Life’s, and Payroll

Measuring – Productivity Efficiencies, O/A, and Engineered Standards

Monitoring – Employee Locations, Temperatures, and Employee activity

WAOC is all about being the Best, Getting Noticed, Self-Educating if you will, and Being That Employee, any parting words of wisdom you would like to share with us today, another words make us successful Leaders Sir?

A good philosophy I live by, is that anyone can point out a problem or issue that is the easy part.  The hard part is to come up with a solution to that problem and to be a part of the resolution.  Always try to be part of the solution and not the issue.  You will find that this philosophy will make you a great resource to your team, when you make it part of your daily routine.

I love the Always try to be part of the solution and not the issue.  Our jobs as leaders are to go over those walls and accomplish the goal right?

Jeremy, thank you for taking a few minutes with us today, you made a lot of good points and gave us plenty to think about, we really appreciate it, could we twist your arm to come visit with us again sometime Sir?

And I’d like to thank each of you for listening in, I hope we’ve triggered some thoughts and brought something of value to you today.  Please share any thoughts or comments with us or topics you’d like us to talk about, shoot us an email host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and check out our Twitter and Facebook feeds each week.

Until next week, have a Safe, Productive and Prosperous week!

Being Prepared for our Shift

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Are we ready for work? Hello again, Marty here with Warehouse and Operations as a Career. We’ll have Joe joining us a bit later in the program today and we’d like to talk about being Ready or Prepared for work each day.

We work in the Warehousing, Transportation and Operations fields, It can be Hot during the Summer, sticky and humid and Cold during the winter and maybe we work in Cooler vaults or Freezer environments, lol we may even have a position where we could be in all three environments throughout the course of our shifts!

I feel we handle these circumstances or situations much better if we’re prepared for them.

We may have day positions or deep night shifts, lol really anything in between.  Certainly not unique to our industry but Operations shifts may be long too, in the distribution arena the task of selection and loading isn’t through until that last case is loaded for delivery.  I’ve interviewed candidates before, gave them the shift start time of like 6 till finish and I’m always asked if that’s eight hours or ten hours, Try explaining what till finished means, 6 to 8 to 10 or as much as 14 just till finished!  Production facilities can be exactly the same, manufacturing can hold true as well, and transportation, transportation is a beast of its own, right?

There’s differences in working a day shift and the night shifts, there should be differences in how we approach or prepare for them as well.  Myself I love the 3rd shift, being one that never required the full 8 hours of sleep it fit me well, the 2nd shift was a good fit for me as well.  I find these two shifts are great for saving money, you’re working during those disposable income hours, also, or at least in some of the distribution centers the weekend comes earlier, many 3rd shifts select and load Sunday through Thursday so deliveries are rolling Monday through Friday.  I found another great thing is, you come in, know the piece count, get it done and go home, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do anything really, just come back the next night and start over again.  There especially great for the single man or woman, I mean we have a lot of unconventional freedoms like when we want to sleep, we can get off and go straight to bed or we can stay up a while, take care of errands or socialize on the schedule we want too.  I use to get off, go to bed for my 6 hours and get up early afternoon, while others would stay up in the mornings, get their day done and wake up like an hour before work.  Like I said I loved those shifts, and we’ll be talking a lot more about the night shifts a bit later, there really important should we have aspirations of Management in the Operations world.

Of course when most people think of a job I think our first thought has to be the 8 to 5 thing, Operations is 24/7 and really 365.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of positions in our field that are day jobs, and there’s equal opportunities on all shifts.  Many times the 2nd & 3rd shift may come with a differential of some kind or outright pay more hourly as well.  In our Distribution worlds we’re going to find that a bit of experience on the night shifts are typically going to be a prerequisite to most positions of upper management.  It’s going to be important that we have a thorough knowledge of how each shift works, what it takes to make it happen and how the employees do their jobs.

The Nightshift can be a bit rough on Families or young children if we approach it as just another job.  Our sleeping is of course upside down most of the time but other things like our eating can be affected as well.  I always just eat by the clock, another words I have typical breakfast foods during morning hours, I always try and have a good lunch but a light lunch when I’m working nights and then I’ll have dinner foods in the evening.  I know a lot of men and women that eat by the meal or breakfast foods just before going into work, a heavy or full lunch and then their dinner when getting off in the mornings, I never could do the plate of spaghetti or lasagna in the mornings myself, I’d of had dreams of monsters or minions I’m sure.   Something I’m always a bit learly of is all the energy drinks available to us today, years ago caffeine pills we’re a bit of a thing, I did and do drink a lot of coffee when on nights but I never liked that jittery feeling after being up a while.

It’s important that we sleep enough & sleep on some kind of a regular schedule.  I find for myself anyway, I can work about any schedule but I do have to keep to a schedule.  As I was saying, I’ve know people that will get off work and go straight to bed & those that stay up 4 or 5 more hours and then turns in but I’ve seen those that have tried to occasionally get straight to be or bounce back and forth between the two during the week and its just not a successful plan.  Without eating properly AND sleeping as your body may require – you will not be successful at work and you’ll possibly find you’ll be sick quite a bit. Back to what I started to say about families and children though, I feel, or it’s my opinion that families can be perfectly fine with a Mom or Dad working a night shift.  The key is it has to be the norm, or the norm at the time.  If Mom or Dad gets up and goes to work as the kids are coming in from school activities or setting down to dinner it just has to be what everyone’s use to and it will be accepted.  I know families that’s worked well that way, for many years.  I actually have several friends that have worked that shift 10, 15 + years, they love working nights, they just feel there’s less stress and it pays well in their position.  I know it probably sounds completely upside down to anyone that’s never worked it but it can really be just different and works well for many people.

Although the Dayshift is inherently normal, I’m definitely not one that should be using the word normal in any form or fashion, but really, the 1st shift is the preferred shift of the masses.  I believe the same things hold true for us on days as well.  We need the sleep our bodies need, may be 5 hours for some of us or 8hrs or 10hrs, we need the rest that we need.

The same holds true with the importance of a schedule too & our eating habits, I believe we have to think ahead a bit, we all have to work the rest of our lives & good habits are going to be needed to keep us as sharp and productive as we can be right?

Being prepared for work each shift will eliminate a lot of the Human Nature things we’ve discussed and we all struggle with from time to time.  If we have a set wake up time and we plan for our breakfast time, have plenty of time to get cleaned up, dressed and are ready to leave for work on time each day, even have a little extra time to leave for work early on those rainy or foggy days we can’t be tardy or we’ll never have to stress about being late reporting to work.  I know several companies that encourage, strongly encourage that their selectors, loaders or fork drivers etc are at work at least 15 minutes early each day.  Think about it, we’ll always be prepared, properly dressed with our PPE’s and at our work stations ready to go if we’ve planned properly.  Being that person will get us noticed by our management teams, and that’s what we’re after, we want them to recognize that we’re dependable, doing a good job & that we participate with the Team.

Well enough of my thoughts, I kind of ran off the rails a bit and got side tracked with what we wanted to talk about.

Joe why’d you let me get lost and go down that opinion path?

(Visit with Joe)

I enjoyed talking with you today Joe and thanks for sharing your thoughts on Being Prepared for our Shifts & I want to thank each of you, our listeners, I hope we gave you some thoughts to think about today, there’s so much opportunity in our field, I mean operations affords us those jobs if we’re just working towards a paycheck at the end of the week BUT we can turn each of those jobs into Careers & advancement and management opportunities are right there in front of us if were interested, all we have to do is apply ourselves, plan our goals out & take on the responsibilities required for those positions!  Again, I’d ask if you enjoy our programs and find any value or are just having fun with it like we are that you’d rate us and leave a comment on iTunes and join in on our discussions through Twitter & Facebook, email us a topic you’re interested in and I’ll find us a subject matter expert, someone doing the task for us to talk with!  Until next week, be prepared for you jobs and work Safe at everything you do, our co-workers and Family will thank you for it!

The Production Facility / Warehouse

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Thanks for joining us here at WAOC today, I’m Marty and I’d like to talk about Production or the Production Facility for a bit.  The Production world offers many warehouse opportunities and unlike in the Distribution arena, well I guess I shouldn’t say unlike really, but it does offer a different kind of productivity metric.  Production doesn’t necessarily mean we’re building a complete product or widget from beginning to end but we’ll probably have a hand with a piece of it, or a component to it or something to do with the end product or result.

In my experiences, we may see fewer pieces of material handling equipment or powered industrial equipment on the floor, Docks may not be quite as congested with product as our Inbound and Shipping operations kind of take a back seat to the building of or packaging & producing if you will.

One of my first experiences in warehousing, and I really enjoyed this job, I was hired on with a Meter Company, we were stocking all kinds of parts for Gas Meters and Water Meters.  I believe we were a 3rd party company that worked closely with the municipal gas and water companies.  We had two different divisions, one area that repaired broken units and on the other side of the building we’d store or stock all the different parts that would be in the many different types of meters & we had a assembly area where meters would be put together and built.  Somewhere in the facility I believe we had a testing room where the final products were ran through the necessary pressure checks and safety routines but I don’t remember actually seeing it, in any event I never got to work to that task.  I really enjoyed my tenure with them and liked the production work though.

I kind of got off track again, ok so in the production environments productivity is just as important as it is to the distribution facilities and we’ll be held to some type of standard or percentages & it’s possible we’ll be paid on some sort of activity based plan or a piece pay or a component system –  although, at most of the facilities I’m familiar with hourly pay programs are much more the norm or being practiced.

Production means just that, and usually several different stations or tasks are involved.  Like the meter company I spoke of, the building was laid out in such a manner as to accommodate the many different tasks that would be needed to actually make a meter.  As an example, I’d come in each morning and start my day in the parts area, we were dealing with several hundred different small parts, springs, little screws and bolts and nuts, really things I can’t even describe to you, just a lot of small things it would take to make a meter.  We’d have a pick sheet which would tell me how many meters’ casings or housings I’d need and how many of each part to pull.  I’d put like items in a small bag, much like those plastic bags you’ll find in furniture boxes or swing sets, you know with each bolt or screw you’ll need to put the thing together, then I’d place all the selected parts in a tote box, it’d then be placed on a pallet which was taken to the next station where a technician would start putting it together. Once the meters were assembled they’d be placed on a pallet and head off to the testing rooms.  Meters that passed were sent to packaging areas, properly boxed or crated up, once that was completed they were sent to the shipping department where they would be invoiced, the BOL or Bill of Laden created and the shipping company or common carrier would be assigned and the pickup scheduled.  The meters that did not work or did not pass would be taken to a dismantle desk, actually torn back down, every part reviewed, either put back in stock or discarded.  Another order would be created.  A failed meter couldn’t be repaired back then, it would simply be dismantled.

Take a look around you right now, practically everything item you see has gone through or came from a production facility, it had to be built or put together in some fashion, right?

Let’s look at how many different positions or stations were used in just my small meter company example, We had the:

  • Parts Room, which of course would have to be stocked weekly as well.
  • Picker or Selection Task
  • The Hauler, we called them movers, which would take to pallets of items to the next work area or station
  • Assembly or Technician Area
  • Testing Stations
  • Dismantling Desk
  • Shipping

Notice we did not have a storage area or inventory department, oh we may keep like 1 or 2 special meters on a shelf for emergencies or for a special customers needs but everything shipped almost immediately, it was our job to produce it or build it, not to store them or inventory them, we simply shipped them to customers or a distribution center to be distributed individually later.

We’re talking about products but you know the Service Industries run Production Facilities as well.  Think about your large Commercial Rental facilities, their production stations can be massive as well.  Chairs, Tables, Electronics etc have to be put together as their ordered, Quality Checked and Shipped to their rental centers or stores, sometimes even the end users direct.  Then upon their return they’ll need to be cleaned, repaired, touched up, maybe even dismantled again.

As we’ve discussed there’s typically not as much powered equipment like forklifts and pallet jacks used in these facilities BUT there can be many different industrial machines of various types and purposes.  We’ll need to be trained on any machine before using it, machines of any type can be dangerous, many may require specialized training or some type of certification before we can operate them even.  It’s important we wear any required PPE or Personal Protective Equipment and do any Pre- Check of the unit, checking that all guards, stop systems & Safety devices are properly placed and in working order.  Think about the large Mixers, Choppers, Sorting type of equipment that could be used in a Food type plant.

One of the newest Industries I’ve see, and man there doing a great job with efficiencies, plant layout, Safety and the principles of Production is the Meal Preparation Industry.  There’s a lot of steps between Cutting up, weighing and packaging small one or two serving packages of herbs & spices and adding a pre-determined, and actually mixed & produced sauces and packaging them with a protein such as chicken, beef or fish for delivery.  And of course there’s all the steps prior to the actual building of the delivery box such as creating the recipes and all the printing that has to be done such as ingredients, portion information and product labeling.  It’s a young Industry and I think there generally doing a great job & have quite a bit to offer us as employees!

Almost everything is produced & that’s where Production Facilities and Warehouses come into play.  As we’ve discussed, your typical facility could have many positions or tasks to be performed and I feel they’re each a great opportunity for us to get our foot in the door, and start working our way to other positions.  We may have to start at an entry level position, like a small item selector and advance our way through several positions & pay grades, reaching out to our Managers and letting them know we want to learn the skills necessary to operate the Production Machines and more advanced Skilled Positions.  We’ll become that very valued employee, we know how the entire operation works right?

I believe, again with my opinions, that Production offers us some great jobs and each of them could very well be that career we’re looking for.  Production can pay very well & it affords us a lot of opportunity and skilled positions as well as many avenues into Management positions.  If you have a particular Production position you’d like us to do a deep dive into give us a shout and I’ll find a person to explain it to us.

Safety is a key component in the Production arena, as with any warehouse position it’s important we follow all the rules, policies and procedures, again it only makes sense, right?

I want to thank you for listening in today, us here at WAOC really appreciate all the Likes and Follows on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, keep those emails coming, we enjoy helping anyway we can.  Please feel free to email us, host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com with any specific questions or if we can help you with any information about a specific position or industry you have interest in!  We hope you’ll check in with us next week as well, WAOC here wishing each of you a productive, prosperous and above all Safe work week ahead!