The Loader Position

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Hello all and Thank you for coming back and listening in today, I’m Marty here with Warehouse and Operations as a Career & we really appreciate you checking in with us. For those of you just joining us, or are first time listeners, gosh I guess this will be Episode 34 already, our show is all about getting into the warehousing or transportation and the Operations fields. We discuss a lot of the positions, talk about the tasks themselves, how to perform the jobs and more importantly how to plan for advancement or prepare for that next position or next step, I guess we talk quite a bit about all the opportunities of our industry and try and suggest some keywords to use with your management teams and letting them know you want a career and not just a job! Please don’t be too harsh on us concerning our audio skills, we’re trying to learn, working hard on it honestly! Remember me and my quests aren’t speakers or radio personalities, we’re Op’s people, we have done the jobs, our guests, in many instances are performing the tasks themselves and are just volunteering to share their thoughts. We don’t claim to be experts, but we have got the experiences and we share our thoughts and probably too often our opinions about most things. We encourage you to participate in our discussions and invite your comments and questions, we love researching the answers and talking about the topics. We have absolutely nothing to sell you and aren’t working to anyone’s agenda.
All that being said let’s find a topic for today. Let’s see, 2 weeks ago we had our 2nd quarter roundtable talk with a bunch of us Op’s guys, JG brought up how most all positions in warehousing actually touches other positions and how he felt an employee should probably know what has happened to the product before we deal with it and what happens with it after it leaves us. He mentioned the loading position, a very important job, and I feel Loading is one of those great jobs to break into the field and there’s a lot we can learn about warehousing while performing the task.
In many industries, Loading can be a General Labor position, and it’s one of those positions that can teach us a bit about warehousing and can be a great spring board or entry level position getting us in the door and giving us the opportunity to start our plan of advancement & reaching our short term goals.
Loading trucks and containers is physical work, even if loading at your facility typically means running pallets of product in a trailer with a forklift or pallet jack it can mean handling the product by hand in one way or another, restacking & wrapping the pallets and in many industries loading or stacking every case by hand, in the right order or by stops so the driver can unload the merchandise in the most efficient way possible.
In your typical distribution center we’ll be dealing with several hundred different items broken down into several orders so we could be hand stacking the product in a trailer. Many times our selectors are palletizing the product and actually stacking it by stop, or trying to keep each stop as together as possible for the driver. A lot of today’s facilities use a WMS or Selection system, instructing the selectors or pickers exactly what part of the pallet or zone of the pallet to place the case, keeping the stops separated for us.
As you can imagine the loading position carries with it quite a bit of responsibility. We may have to use electric pallet jacks, sit down forklifts or other pieces of powered industrial equipment so we’ll need to be trained and certified to do so. This is another one of those opportunities for me to remind you to never touch or get on or attempt to operate a piece of equipment or machine you have not yet been trained to do so. Actually with this position possibly exposing us to equipment usage and training I believe it’s a great break thru position into warehousing. Another plus with it is we will see and fingerprint every item our company moves or sells, making us that much more familiar with the product.
To JG’s point during our 2nd quarter roundtable discussion we’ll have the opportunity to be working closely with the Order Selectors as they will be delivering the selected orders to us and with Transportation or the drivers as well as we’ll be loading the product for them, many drivers may even be involved to the point of teaching or training us how they like their deliveries organized.
So here’s a quick day in the life of scenario I’m familiar with as a loader, maybe we could talk through a couple of them, let’s start with Loading for Delivery Route Drivers at a distribution center. Upon arrival, on time and dressed properly and wearing our required PPE’s we’ll probably punch in and head to our pre-shift meeting or Safety meeting where we’ll hear a piece count or load count for the shift, review a Safety topic so Safety is on our minds and we’re focused, I hope we’ll do some stretching real quick and get our muscles warmed up and ready for work as well. We may now go get our powered equipment and perform our pre-trip inspections and turn in our completed check list. As we report to our work station or assigned doors we could be handed a load mapping sheet which is a sheet or diagram on what pallets and their position in the trailer they should be loaded. If we are working in a food service facility like JG mentioned we’ll have a Freezer compartment, usually in the nose of the trailer so we’ll be loading our freezer product first. One of our Regulatory duties will be to make sure and probably document that the trailer has been pre-cooled and at the proper temperature before we start loading it out. Once all the frozen product is loaded we’ll probably be responsible for setting the bulkhead. A bulkhead is a sturdy piece of insulating material which holds in the cold air. We’ll typically utilize straps and an ETRAC that runs along the inside wall of a trailer to snap into securing the bulkhead. Our bulkhead may even have a small fan kit in it which allows cold air to be thermostatically controlled and pass through to our next compartment which will be our fresh product or refrigerated items. Usually 2 and 3 compartment trailers will have a side door for the driver to retrieve each compartments product from and you’ll notice our mapping sheets will have us load the freezer and cooler pallets or stops a bit differently or in a different order than we’ll load out the dry area or rear of the trailer. Once we’ve got everything properly loaded, verified the load is complete we may be responsible for sealing it and recording the number of the seal on the driver’s documents. This tells the driver its ready for dispatch and secures the load from any tampering after we’ve completed our task. We’ll turn that loads paperwork in and receive another set of mapping sheets to start our next load. As you can see there’s quite a bit of responsibility with our Loading position.
So how do we get those pallets or how are they staged for us on the docks and by the proper doors to be loaded out? We’ll, after an order selector completes his or her batch, which is basically a pull or trip throughout the warehouse they are instructed to drop it off behind a predetermined door, usually decided by the load mapper or the WMS or warehouse management system. When everything goes according to plan each selector will arrive in order and at the right time to stage the pallets in the order of loading. Each pallet will have an identifying number on it or we’ll read the stops so we know what position to place the pallet inside the trailer. I know of several facilities that will run a new loader alongside an order selector for a few hours during his or her initial training so we’ll know how the product is selected and how to identify the stops associated with that pallet.
Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes we may receive special instructions from the loads driver as to how he or she wants the trailer loaded. I mean the driver knows how the route will be ran and the most efficient way to load or place the pallets to their liking.
Another type of loading could be vendor loads, quite a bit different from route deliveries, we may just be loading pallets that have been pre-staged awaiting for an over the road driver to pick it up and deliver it to a distribution center. In this scenario we could be responsible for retrieving the product from the storage racks, again working from a load sheet. This time though we’ll be more focused on how we place the weight or distribute the weight than which item goes where. Again, our mapping or load sheet or WMS will instruct us as to how to load the trailer. Weight distribution is very important when loading out a trailer and it could very well be our responsibility to sign off on it.
If we’ve done our jobs correctly the loads are secure, all the product is on board and the Driver will have a Safe trip without any regulatory issues or product damage and Customer will be serviced as expected!
Well that’s the Loader Position in a nut shell, at least in very broad terms, and I hope it gives you an idea of the task. I believe Loading is a great position to get familiar with a company’s product and warehousing procedures and it generally will introduce us to some of the equipment we’ll be using in other positions. I know many people that really enjoys the physical aspects of the job and have made a career out of it, has been doing it for many years and loves it. Once we learn the procedures and product we can start eyeing other positions, Order Selecting or even driver helpers. I know several delivery drivers that got their start on the docks loading out product.
I hope you found something we spoke about today useful, we enjoyed putting it together and would ask that you email us any ideals or subjects you’d like us to talk about, maybe give us a quick thumbs up and Like our Facebook Page or a Follow on Twitter. We hope to see you next week, until then please stay focused on the job, work safe and be safe, our Families and Peers are counting on us!

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