Hope all finds you well this week, I’m Marty and we appreciate you checking in with us today here at Warehouse and Operations as a Career! I’m really excited about an episode, or I guess it’ll be several episodes actually where we’ll be speaking with a New Associate in the Freight Handling world. We’ll have a lot of fun with it and we’re going to try and follow him for a few months within his new job, from his application process to getting hired, his first days on the job and the training. It should be interesting to hear his thoughts about starting a new job, any challenges with the process and checking in with him periodically to hear about any new hire frustrations and the positive feelings he may have about his position. We’re going to try and kick off the series as soon as we can get it all put together and schedule a few phone calls, I’ll keep you posted with our progress, it’s going to be a lot of fun and I hope you’ll find it interesting and informational.
So as for today let’s talk a little about the position of Warehouse Clerk. I was asked by a young gentleman if there were any positions in the warehouse other than unloading trucks or picking the product. He had just started with his first warehouse position, it sounds like maybe a utility type position where one day he may unload trucks, possibly do a bit of Sanitation occasionally and he’s been sent to a re-pack area a few times as well. He was enjoying the work until he had been introduced to the electric pallet jack. It sounds to me like he was doing a good job and learning the tasks well and either his supervisor wanted more for him or possibly he had spoken with someone about making more money or kind of spoke up asking what’s next or something like that.
You know none of us are born with a stamp on our birth certificate that states we can operate an electric pallet jack. I sometimes get frustrated when I hear a young Supervisor or Lead speaking with HR and asking for only PIT trained or experienced Electric Pallet Jack employees. The equipment and its use is not difficult to learn, 90% of its operation is staying aware of your surroundings, focus on what you’re doing, operating it Safely & showing it some respect. I take every opportunity to point out to these managers that someone had given them a chance and taught them how to use the equipment hence helping launch their careers! When I see a young man or woman that really wants to work, full of energy and motivated or excited about a job I point out any additional training hours spent on them are cheaper and more beneficial than running through 2 or 3 less interested individuals. I don’t feel that’s so much of an opinion really, in my experiences I’ve found it to ring true time and again.
Anyway, this gentleman is quite uncomfortable even being around any type of powered equipment and states he doesn’t believe being out on the warehouse floor is going to be for him. His question is “are there other positions available, not an office job, but something where one doesn’t have to be in the aisles and on equipment.” He’s heard us mention the Warehouse Clerk & asked if we could speak to those duties & explain what a clerk is.
That’s kind of hard to define but I think the term is used pretty broadly in our industry and really can be anything from an Inbound or Outbound Scheduler to a position filing drivers daily log sheets. Let’s talk about a couple of different task real quick:
The Inbound Window, this task is to identify a load, trailer or Vendor arriving to drop off a load of product, supplies or equipment to our facility. Usually our task is to confirm a purchase order number is associated with it and that the driver has an scheduled appointment and that in fact we are expecting the delivery. Now this person can be working from the Guard Shack or Check-in Station located at the beginning of a staging driveway, usually the building is placed there at our more secure facilities or large trailer yards where traffic has to be directed. For smaller centers or where security isn’t a concern the person, office or window will usually be placed by the driver entrance door or where drivers will enter our facility to check in and pick up any company documents or instructions on unloading his or her load. Now many times, and depending on the type of product and the company’s rules and procedures the driver may be given instructions to back the trailer to a numbered dock door and that he or she will be notified once the unloading or loading process is complete. Some facilities are what’s called Driver Unload docks, meaning the company does not provide anyone to unload your freight and the driver is responsible for the process. Many companies will offer an unloading service or Lumper Service which is simply a third party that the Driver can hire to unload his or her freight for them. Our Window person or clerk would instruct the driver to the Freight Handlers or Lumpers management to contract with them. Should the Driver wish to unload his own freight instead of using the Unloading provider we would give them their inbound or receiving paperwork, probably have them sign a statement sheet about our company’s rules, processes and procedures, equipment usage information etc and let them into the warehouse. This person may be responsible for keeping an entrance and exit log with arrival and departure times, purchase orders that are being delivered, probably verifying Seal numbers and recording temperature settings on refrigerated trailers. A Seal being a lock or a Tin or Plastic strip that goes through the trailer door handles preventing them from being opened or the load being tampered with. As simple as they sound recording that number properly is a very import requirement, in many industries it’s a regulation. As you can tell this person will work closely with the Inbound Drivers and the companies Receivers, possibly even with the merchandisers or persons responsible for purchasing the goods.
In my experiences this position requires someone with patience, a bit of a multi tasker. It’s important that we can be firm with the procedures but we have to be understanding too. Many times a driver is running ahead of schedule or behind schedule, maybe some aspect of his appointment has changed since he or she picked up the load and we’ll need to listen to their frustrations while sticking to our company’s process as well. I’ve seen people move from positions on the warehouse floor into the Window position but rarely have I seen it the other way around. I think one enjoys the responsibilities, the interacting with others and all the reporting that may be required in order to be successful there. It’s a tough job, I’ve actually filled in there before and there’s more to it than it sounds!
A couple of other Clerk positions could be:
Scheduler – If you like answering emails and speaking on the telephone this may just be the job for you! Simply put the Scheduler receives emails and phone calls from Trucking agents or Vendors to Schedule their freight appointments. There’s not a lot of other duties usually associated with this position at your larger facilities due to the volume of calls & messages received hourly. A smaller organizations I find that this task may be assigned to a warehouse lead person or supervisor. This person is responsible for scheduling and documenting the appointments. I have no problem admitting I can’t do this task, its busy and very detailed.
Returns Clerk – Here one can be working very closely with several different departments, from delivery drivers and warehousemen to merchandisers and customers. Again we’ll need to be a pretty detail orientated person as theirs typically quite a bit of paperwork and documentation required. I think this is a great position to get started in warehousing with. There may or may not be equipment usage needed and with us working so closely with so many departments and people we get some great exposure to other jobs and needs within our company.
A really interesting position that, may hold the clerk title is Mapping, and I’ve heard it referred to as Trailer or Load Mapping before too. This position typically reports to the Warehouse but I’ve seen them fall under the Transportation umbrella as well. Usually this is a function working closely with the Routers due to how loads or routes are sometimes reorganized from the Routing Systems idea of how things should be delivered due to time windows or just a knowledge the router may have about the final delivery’s needs or the route if we’re dealing with a route delivery scenario. The Router or Routing System will of course route the stops, cases and weight out for the trailers but the Warehouse is selecting the cases and building the pallets, which will end up on the loading docks or staged in a holding area for the Loaders to position in the trailer. Some facilities may utilize the Selectors to run their pallets on into the trailers but the process is the same regarding a mapping diagram or the positioning of the pallets on the trailer. The system should do a pretty good job of distributing the weight properly and cubing out the load or making sure everything will fit but someone needs to direct the loaders as to which pallets or selection batches needs to go where. In a perfectly timed world every selector would finish his or her batch or pull at the exact time it would be loaded into the route but there’s about a hundred reasons that’s not going to happen so the load is mapped using a batch number or sequence number, which is just a sticker or tag the selector will place onto the pallet, usually the last sticker of that selection batch that the loader will match to the positioning diagram from the Mapper. Now of course this describes the process of a facility using a WMS or Warehouse Management System but the process itself holds true in a non-directed warehouse as well. The pallets still need to be in the right place for the delivery driver to find their product for the next stop or a dock driver to be properly weighted out or the load to be properly distributed. Mapping is another great transition position and can offer us several other opportunities in both warehousing & transportation.
There is of course several other clerk or clerk type positions in the industry, each company and facility has their own reporting and paperwork needs & I think typically where there is a bit of paperwork required to perform a task we could find a clerk position ready for us to fill.
Every position in the warehouse is an important one, I assure you we would not be getting paid money to perform it if it wasn’t needed. As I’ve mentioned in other episodes these are great positions to enter into the world of operations. We’ve discussed several of the positions mentioned here today in past episodes and I’d invite you to check them out on our website warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and if you have any questions regarding any of our topics please send us an email to email@example.com and we’d be happy to find you an answer. We love researching answers we don’t know!
We here at WAOC really enjoy your, our listeners, comments and emails and we thought it’d be fun to maybe give away a gift card and have you share a thought or two with us! As you know we’re pretty big on Safety and Safety Practices around here. We’d like to do an upcoming episode on the different Safety practices at different facilities and would like your participation! Everyone that sends us an email with Safety in the subject line and shares some practices used at your facility or list and explain a few practices you’d like to see at your facility in the body of the email will be entered into a drawing for a $50.00 gift card and your name and ideas brought up on an episode if you’d like! Please send your emails to us by Saturday 07/08/2017 and our drawing will be held on 07/13/2017. We’ll let everyone know when the episode will be released and who the winner was!
Thanks for listening in with us today, I hope we’re leaving you with a few new thoughts on positions within warehousing and transportation. Please remember Safety Practices are there for a reason and in every position we’ll hold within Operations. Please work Safe & Be Safe out there this week!