The Production Facility / Warehouse


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, 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!

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