3rd Party Audits and our Opportunities / A Forklift Audit & the AHA Benefit Tournament

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Hello, I’m Marty and I’d like to thank you for listening in today with Warehouse and Operations as a Career.  We’re actually out on the road again this week, visiting a Production facility in Arizona and attending a golf tournament benefiting the American Heart Association a bit later in Nevada.  When I say attending I’m referring to working a Tee or Vendor table, by no stretch of the imagination could I be considered a golfer.  I’ve tried taking it up several times but to no avail.  I can drive almost any type of Industrial equipment but I can’t drive that little ball down the fairway.  Belmar Integrated Logistics has sponsored a hole on the course for the cause and they’ve invited WAOC to present it with them.  With any luck I may just be able to grab one of their executives to chat with us a few minutes during the episode.

Last week we discussed getting noticed by our management team, how to insure it & use it to our advantage.  We briefly mentioned the audit process, probably should have gone into it a little deeper or talked a bit more about it as its one of the things we can really help our supervisor with.  As we spoke of last week, if we bring up something that can make our supervisor’s job a bit easier we will get noticed and that’s not easily forgotten.  With just a little self-taught knowledge and a good keyword tossed into a conversation we can get their attention.

Ok, I believe every warehouse in all industries are open to at least yearly audits.  I’d think all cities would have an inspection program or facilities inspector, and I’d bet at least a Fire Inspector or Fire Marshall may stop by annually.   Some heavier equipment buildings may have a regulatory agency such as OSHA or an agency involved within the particular industry could be required to visit each year.  If you’re in the food service industry you could have other state and federal agencies come by such as the FDA or USDA, and there’s a host of other agencies, again, depending on your business and industry that could be required to visit, and many could make surprise or unannounced visits throughout the year. These days a lot of customers and vendors that you deal with could stop in unannounced, checking on their products, how we’re handling them, storing them etc.  It can certainly be over whelming on our management teams to keep up with all the regulatory concerns and any special requirements and demands of their accounts.  That’s where the experts come in, or as we spoke too last week the 3rd party auditors.  These are simply, well not simple I guess, but these are companies that know the regulations and probably more importantly know the documentation needed to insure we’re following all the best practices and rules, and in many cases the laws that the different agencies are tasked with enforcing.  Remember, these city, state and federal inspectors and inspections are important.  They’re not here just to impose fines on our companies but rather insure our safety and the safety of the public.  I’ve taken part in and walked many facilities with auditors of all types and I can honestly tell you I’ve never met an official that wasn’t more concerned with sharing and teaching or instructing rather than fining and criticizing a company’s staff.  Now of course you have to really care and have been following the rules and regulations and more importantly keeping up with your documentation but barring any flat out negligence on our part I believe you’ll find them a wealth of information & that they will do their best to help you get in line with the programs. I kind of veered of topic again, but one more point I’d like to make about an Auditor, don’t lie or try and mislead them, answer every question even if the answer is “let me check on that or I’m not certain, let me get that for you”.  Know that this is not their first walk, they’ve heard it all and know what’s what.  Don’t strike up a conversation with them but answer their questions, all of them.  You don’t need to offer up answers to questions not asked but answer their questions honestly.

Alright, no more ranting and back to the 3rd party Auditors.  Like I was saying, these are companies that knows the rules and laws and how all these different agencies want to see our paperwork or documentation.  Our company or employer can hire these companies to come in and perform an audit just as a regulatory authority would or our customer or vendor may.  Yep, it’s usually a bit expensive but boy can it be money well spent.  It’s much better to be corrected by them than to find we’re off the page and doing something wrong or being negligent by not knowing the rules or not documenting things properly and ending up with a large fine or worse. So how can we as General Labors, order selectors, forklift drivers, unloaders and loaders help our Supervisors with things like this you ask?  Easy, by just doing our task and jobs as taught and directed.  If we see something or someone else not following direction we need to bring it up.  Last week we spoke about GMP’s, these aren’t just guidelines or rules that your Supervisor wants you to follow, there part of your companies regulatory concerns.  Depending what industry you’re in it can be things like “No glass containers outside the breakroom and No gum chewing or candy on the warehouse floor.”  These things are actually written into your companies programs.  The company is stating that all these rules are followed by each employee and that the employee is aware of the rule or procedure.  Our auditor will be asking to see where the associate has been notified and the rules explained to them & be looking for any infractions during their walk through.  An important thing for us to remember is all those things we’ve signed during our orientation & all the information discussed at our pre shift meetings are part of a bigger picture and not just an idea by our supervisor.  So an easy way to get noticed by our management team is knowing all those rules or guidelines and bringing them up from time to time.  GMP’s are pretty Warehouse 101, meaning many of them are practically standards really, never place product on the floor, always place on pallets, do not stand wood or pallets on their ends, always lay flat, do not operate any powered equipment you have not been trained to do so, wear assigned and proper PPE’s at all times when on the floor or work area, keep work areas clean and safe, do not block emergency exits, never jump out of a dock door, utilize employee exits always etc.  These are written procedures and so there part of the audits, the auditor will want to see the documentation and will be looking for infractions.  It’s not unheard of for an auditor to walk up to us and ask us a question about our GMP’s, shouldn’t be a problem, we’ve typically signed off on them and we’ll know the answer right?  We all get busy doing our jobs and its sometimes easy to start taking these procedures for granted or we get in a hurry and forget about proper product and pallet handling but it’s important and part of a much bigger picture as you can see.  Bring up during a startup meeting, in a nice way of course, that your noticing a lot of foot prints on cases or pallets being stood on ends and your supervisor will spring board off what you’ve said and they will reinforce it with the rest of the shift & You will be remembered by them, noticed if you will.  The more often and frequently we mention something or bring up a point the more our supervisor will recognize that we are interested in the company, the procedures and they he or she will gravitate towards giving us more, more thought, more time and possibly our goal which is more responsibility!

One of the most defined and most documented audit points or area is with our Sanitation Programs.  What is cleaned daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly.  What chemicals do we use and at what solutions.  We’ve all been in a restaurant and noticed a sheet of paper in the restroom where a restaurant employee has written a time the restroom was last cleaned and initialed off on it, that’s part of their Sanitation Program.  They’ll be a file with something like the last quarters daily sheets filed away somewhere so when an auditor asks if this procedure is being followed the company will be able to show it is and that it’s documented.  Little things to us as employees but very important things to our management teams.

If our facility handles and stores chemicals there could be a lot of storage concerns and procedures written, each of course needing its own documentation that the procedure and process is being followed and adhered too.  Oh, and food facilities, wither production of food or storing food products and the distribution of food products there can be a lot of procedures and their documentation.  As we’ve discussed in earlier episodes things like trailer inspection reports, temperature reports and product integrity reporting can be required to document.  Again, these things can seem time consuming to us as employees but there important and a very important part of our tasks.  Mentioning just these types of things, just bringing them up in conversation like, “How long do we keep these trailer inspection reports on file, there for things like audits right” will get us noticed and probably respected by our management team not to mention it’s really a part of our job!

These are the kinds of things our company may hire a 3rd party company to come in and audit ourselves just to be sure we’re ready for an actual city, state or government entity audit.  Money well spent in my opinion.

As I mentioned I spent some time in Arizona this week, I actually performed an observation audit at a production facility.  They have a great group there, a very impressive team.  I was auditing their forklift operations as a whole, the certification files, equipment pre-trip & post trip reporting, maintenance records, incident investigations and spent some time just observing the operators.  I spoke with several of them about what topics were discussed at their Safety meetings & if they had any ideals they’d like to see implemented or looked at, just things like that.  These could be the kinds of things a Safety Auditor may look for and bring up during an actual audit. I’m happy to say there were no infractions found and the team is doing a great job at facility.

Well, here at the end of the week I ended up in Nevada where as I mentioned Belmar Integrated Logistics is sponsoring a hole for a great cause, the American Heart Association.  This is a yearly fund raising tournament and it’s so exciting to see all the local businesses and vendors participating and helping support such an important organization.  All the sponsors have a team on the greens and most of them have tables set up at their sponsored tees with water and shade for the players and some fine conversation with individuals such as myself.  I’ve ran into John Riddile here and he’s been gracious enough to give us a few minutes.

John, I want to thank you for taking the mic for a few minutes today Sir.  So, tell us about this tournament, how’d you end up here today?

Well Marty, as you’ve said, the American heart association is a great cause and we have been blessed to be able to participate in this annual golf tournament fundraiser for the past 6 years. As a partner with one of our large national accounts. I’m certainly not a great golfer either, but again, it’s for a great cause and we are having a lot of fun doing it every year!

Any thing you’d like to share with us here at WAOC, anything going on in the business?

You know Marty, one thing that I have been thinking about a lot late lately, is just how big our industry really is! If you consider how distribution, warehousing, operations and logistics is a multi-trillion dollar business, it really opens your eyes to the immense opportunities available to job seekers in this business. I always think of distribution as the massive set of events that happens behind the curtains, that nobody really even thinks about.

Case in point, Just take a look around you….. every single thing you see was manufactured and distributed through the supply chain and probably through several distribution channels by the time you buy it. As long as people will continue to buy things, there will be demand for the distribution industry. Just look at food service distribution alone…. whether the economy is doing good or bad, people still have to eat and as long as humans still need to eat food, there will be warehouse distributors.

Food service and liquor distribution are two recession proof industries that will always have inherit demand regardless of any economical situation. Like I’ve said in previous episodes, if your listeners will follow the principals and tenets of what you cover and address each week, they can easily build a path to prosperity, if they are willing to commit themselves to the discipline of self-accountability.

The distribution industry is one of the largest on earth and it is certainly a dependable and stable career choice. You know Marty I have never in my life worried about job security because of this very fact. If you are a trained order selector, you will always have a job available to you if you want it. Warehousing and operations as a career is a great choice!!

John that’s some great thoughts, you know operations is a tremendous industry.  You are absolutely right, the jobs are there, will always be there in my opinion.  I feel the Industry is just a great opportunity and can offer us great careers.

John, Thanks for taking a few minutes with us today, I know a Hotel Lobby isn’t the best place to visit but hey, we learn where we can right!

And I appreciate all of you that listen in to us each week, I hope we’re bringing some value to your careers or at least sparking some interest within Operations.  Keep those questions and emails coming and we’ll keep sharing our experiences and getting you some answers.  Keep growing, learning and sharing with your teams and as always Be Safe doing it!

Get Noticed, Get Promoted & Get More

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Hello and I appreciate you listening in with us here at Warehouse and Operations as a Career today, I’m Marty and today I’d like to share a question posed to our WAOC group.  I had a great time researching for this episode.  I sent out a few questionnaires to Supervisors and Managers I know soliciting their thoughts and advice, I posed the same question to each of them and not surprising all the answers we’re practically carbon copies of each other!  Let me kind of set the stage a bit.  The scenario is an associate with about 3 years warehouse experience in a distribution facility.  Their present position is as an Order Selector and he has experience as a forklift driver in past production positions.  Overall he’s worked about 5 years in 3 different warehouses and appears to possess the necessary skills and training.  He states “I know I’m an average selector and my errors are well within the norm.  I always receive my productivity bonus and I’ve never had an accident of any kind.  I want to do more but I feel like my supervisor doesn’t even know I’m here, she’s always nice, says hello and answers any questions, which I hardly ever need anything anyway.  WAOC is always talking about Getting Noticed & Be that person so what else do I need to do.  I’ve only been tardy one time and haven’t missed many days at all.  Any ideas?  And in parentheses he’s put please don’t use my name.

It sounds like the gentleman is on the right track without a doubt.  Attendance and being on time is a large piece of our advancement pie.  Getting noticed isn’t always easy and yes it’s possible to do everything 100 percent correct and find that our Supervisors just don’t see it.  Let’s put ourselves in their shoes for a minute.  They have an employee they can count on, shows up everyday and produces for them. We make there jobs easier. So yes, even though we may be sharing our goals with them, their comfortable with us in the position we’re in, shoot, we may be the reason this part of their job is going so well.  So, all we need to do is make another part of there job, or all of their duties easier.  We need to show them we can help in other ways too.

WAOC tries to stress the importance of self-education and impressing others, heck impressing ourselves for that manner.  Honestly its so easy, I sometimes think we make it so hard on ourselves because the information and words we need are around us and used everyday.  We know all the key words, those attention grabbers that will, without a doubt, get us noticed.  Noticed by not only our boss but their boss as well.

We’ve talked a lot about the use of keywords before.  Not complements towards our management teams but words that means something to them, things that they are held accountable for.  Today lets talk about a few words that will get their attention.  You’ll be able to identify where their concerns are or what their focused on and you will get noticed by them.  Remember we’re going to make their jobs easier and at the very least we’re going to speak to what’s on their mind.  We don’t have to be proficient at any of this, we just need to be able to use the vocabulary & be able to speak to it a little.

First let’s look at a few reporting words:

https://www.thebalance.com/measures-of-warehouse-productivity-2221323

Productivity:  Warehouse productivity is a number of measurements that management will analyze to monitor the performance of their warehouse operations. The basis of many of the measures used in warehouse productivity is based on how much it costs to perform an operation. The study of labor productivity started with the analysis of repetitive operations in a manufacturing environment. Time and motion studies were performed by industrial engineers, who would observe how long line operators took to do certain operations and would then mathematically calculate standard times for operations.

The warehouse operations are unlike production as they are not repetitive, but a number of measures have been devised to help measure warehouse productivity.

That’s a bit deep and at this stage, I feel, we don’t have to figure out the How, or how to arrive at these numbers as much as we need to know the What and Why.  The What being the numbers expected from us, 210 cs/hr, 31 Replenishments/hr, 28 Putaways/hr, 750 cs Received an hour, or 450 linier ft moved per hour etc, whatever Industry numbers or measurement number your facility is asking for. And it’s perfectly fine to ask the Why, and we should understand the importance of why.  As an example, we need to pick 210 cs/hr so we can load 500cs/hr so the trucks can dispatch on time.  These are just made up numbers, you know your numbers as their being discussed daily, or hopefully they are, if not there’s your first subject to discuss with your Supervisor!

Throughput:  http://smallbusiness.chron.com/estimate-labor-based-warehouse-throughput-numbers-35190.html

Throughput is the rate at which a company can produce finished goods on a consistent basis. While different companies can apply throughput in different ways, a common way a warehouse might measure throughput is as a measurement of how many finished goods can be moved through the warehouse on a daily basis. By measuring the warehouse throughput, management can determine how much warehouse labor expense to include in the cost per unit

Every warehouse I know of really measures throughput using different components but usually it will be something like total cases divided by total hours will be your throughput number.  This is a number your management team could use for measuring how well and efficient the operation is running.

Metrics : http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/metrics.html

Standards of measurements by which efficiency, performance, progress, or quality of a plan, process or product can be assessed.

We know how many cases are received each day, how many trucks come in to unload, how many pallets all that freight is broken down on each day.  Just like we know everything in reverse on the Shipping side or how many cases are pulled and how many trucks are loaded for dispatch, and we’ll know how many units are produced on a shift and boxed up for shipping to how many customers had ordered them.  These numbers are used to measure everything in operations and each number is needed to measure something else.

Again, we hear all these words and numbers weekly.  The power is in understanding them enough to bring them up to our Supervisor.  If he or she is not familiar with them I assure you that you just met your new best friend.  And if they are being held accountable for them he or she will be sharing much more with you if you’re truly interested in them.  I’m pretty sure we will now be noticed and noticed in a positive way.  Remember, its conversation, don’t come across like an expert, just bring them up in conversation and it should be perfectly fine to ask about them.

A couple of other things that can help us get noticed could be a little knowledge about any Audits our management teams could be responsible for.  We’ve discussed a couple of different audits before, In episode 2 we ran through a few of the 3rd party Sanitation and operational ones as well as a few governmental agencies as well, I believe it was titled A Few Thoughts on Regulatory, GMP’s, SOP’s and PWM’s.  It’d be great if you have a few minutes to review them, it has quite a few talking points your Supervisors should really enjoy sharing and discussing with you.

Two quick subjects every lead and supervisor should take notice too are our GMP’s and SOP’s so I’d like to talk about them for a few minutes.

As we’ve learned, General Maintenance Practices can include, and probably should include, all of our facility sanitation and warehouse rules.

GMP’s can be written simple or pretty complex, every facility will be different but there are a few that are just Warehousing 101 like:

No gum chewing or using mints or candy in the warehouse

No glass containers outside of the breakroom

No soda’s or sugary drinks on the warehouse floor

No civilian or personal jackets outside the locker room

No lunch containers outside the lunch room

Clean up spills of any kind immediately

Do not place boxes on the floor always utilize pallets

Cover any cuts and scabs with a bandage

Smoking in designated areas only

No spitting in the warehouse, including in the trash cans

Segregate damages in the specified areas

And SOP’s: or Standard Operating Procedures

Arrive to work on time and dressed for work wearing all required PPE’s or personal protective equipment

Proceed to the equipment charging area, retrieving your assigned jack and performing your Pre-trip inspection of the equipment

Sign into your selection equipment and pull your first batch down

Proceed to the first slot and complete your batch

Stage and wrap pallets at the assigned door

Proceed to the empty pallet area and retrieve pallets

Pull down your second batch and proceed to completion

Of course, that’s a quick example but you get the idea.  Remember we learned that Documentation is the important key with GMP’s and SOP’s, if it’s not documented that you’re doing it the Auditor will assume you’re not doing it!

Properly having and documenting all Safety procedures are very important as well, from general safety rules to exactly describing the procedures for cleaning spills, properly lifting product and procedures for stacking pallets and controlling walkways. Pre and Post trip inspections of equipment and a good Lock out Tag out program are good examples as well.

You mention a few of these at the right moment or bring them up in a conversation and again, you will be noticed.

Share your thoughts and ideas, participate during every Safety meeting and you’ll be showing your management team how interested you are in the job and the company.  I can’t help but feel they will notice you, and notice their working with someone interested in a career!

I read once, and I apologize I’m not sure where – that Luck is just when preparation and opportunity meet.  I feel we can control both of these.  We’ve discussed several times here at WAOC how it’s our responsibility or us as Associates to be a bit self-educated, listen and learn during every shift, we’re exposed to so much about the company and its inner workings every day.  And our Managers give us plenty of opportunities to show them what we’ve learned.  Use those start up meetings and safety meetings to speak up, an opportunity to slide in a little of our learned knowledge will present itself.

We’ve covered a lot of ground today, it’s easy, it’s really simple to get noticed by the management team.  If we’re there and on-time every shift the self-education will come easy, we’re around it every day.  The only part that some find difficult is bringing it up and participating, just do it, you’ll find it’s just that easy and its appreciated.

I hope we answered the question and you’ve picked up a pointer or two or at least a couple of ideas to try or throw out there at your next meeting or chat with your supervisor.  If we here at WAOC can help you with an individual question or situation just shoot us a email to host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com and we’ll share our thoughts and probably an opinion or two with you.  Thanks for listening to us today, and we’d appreciate it if you’d check the show out again next week.  Until then lets all Listen, Learn, Participate and Share! Please work and live Safe, we have many people counting on us!

Increasing our Earnings – Capturing every Opportunity

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Can you believe another week has already gone by!   I’m Marty here with Warehouse and Operations as a Career and I’d like to thank you for Listening in with us again today.  If you are a repeat listener, and I hope you are, shoot I hope everyone has Subscribed so you won’t miss out on any of our weekly or special episodes.  All you need to do is click that little subscribe button on iTunes if you’re on a desk top or use the Apple Podcast app on your iPhone and for us Android users I’d recommend Google Play Music and of course there’s a host of Podcatcher App’s out there to use.  And all these buttons can be found on our website Warehouse and Operations as a Career.com.  And while I’m talking about the show I’ll throw a quick plug out to our Twitter and Facebook Feeds, both can be found using @whseandops on both forms of media.  We try and retweet as many job postings as we can each week to Twitter and all our episodes can be found on our Facebook Page too.  Well, enough promotion stuff, what are we going to talk about today, let me see here.

Oh, WAOC went mobile a couple of times lately, we really enjoyed the Job Fair we we’re invited to a few weeks ago and meeting up with Joe last week on the road in Denver was really cool.  If you have an event coming up or an idea for a mobile show shoot us an email, we enjoy hitting the road and talking with you!

I jotted down a few notes, a couple of things to look at, you know a couple of things that’s came up recently, I guess more like questions regarding things brought up on the show, like our discussions on Pay Rates and piece pay, benefits and how we need to dig into and understand our orientations & wages.  I know we talk a lot about getting our foot in the door and taking a job while we plan for that advancement & promotion to what we’re really wanting to do.  I think if we have figured out what our goal is & we’ve put together a plan to get there It’s just easier to think of our yearly earnings or wages than to think about our hourly rate or Salary?

I think back in episode 9, we were working with Jeff Character, remember our virtual example employee, while he was struggling with needing to pay for parking.  I think the company or the employer was offering a discounted rate when deducted from his check or he could pay the full amount by the day, which seemed much cheaper at $5 a day than the $62 taken out of his check on the first of each month?  We would be saving about $40 each month or $480 a year if we’d have went with that $62 dollar or monthly deduction!  Recently a scenario came up about insurance, along the same lines so let’s look at it for a minute.

To keep it simple & just as examples, I’m not calculating anything or using the real formulas and we’ll use U.S. dollars and information just because I’m more familiar with them.  So with Health Care here, we need to carry some sort of Health Insurance or we may be penalized a calculated amount.  Let’s say the penalty is $750.00 a year based on our income.  And our employer offers a plan at a cost to us off 11.00 a week.  Now this $11.00 a week is the bare minimum plan, doesn’t offer much but it satisfies the requirements and prevents the possible penalty.  So our penalty was $750/yr and our insurance is $11.00 a week, which is $572 a year, we’re actually coming out ahead, for the year by taking the insurance and saving, or earning, depending how your wanting to look at it a $178! Even with a bit more comprehensive plan or one that offers a little more coverage like a few Dr. Visits and a little more than just preventative medicine, let’s say its $23 a week or $1196 dollars a year, we’re actually only out or it’s costing us $446 a year if you factor in the penalty we could have to pay anyway if we carried no insurance. The point here of course is to Be sure we understand AND figure our income by the Yearly totals and not just a hourly wage.  In the two examples, we mentioned we’ll be talking about roughly the equivalent of around 1hour of overtime a week and we’d be adding money to our yearly wage!

Another thing that’s hard to realize to us, I know it is for me, is working for a lower wage than we have before.  If we just look at it using math though, Let’s say we had a job making $15.00/hr and we’re offered a position for $12.00/hr, or even $11.00/hr.  We don’t have that job making that $600 a week any more, we’re out looking for a job so we’re at ‘0″ dollars a week right now.  $480 and even $440 is better than our 0 a week!  And we’re going to start out, right from the start showing our new employer that we’re there on time and ready to work for every shift and doing a great job, being productive and wanting more.  We will advance, I’m certain of it.  Even if our starting wage is all they can pay for that position there are other positions that once we learn our task we can advance too, keep moving through the positions until we get the job we want and at the wage that we’re looking for.  Like I always say I hope we’re all shooting for or planning for that VP position or even higher or the position that gives us what we want, financially, physically and emotionally, something we love doing!  We need to plan for our Goal which should be retirement from a great career doing something we really enjoy!  Again, think down the road, at least by the year and not on our present hourly wage.  There’s typically 2,080 regular time hours in a year, that’s a 40 hour work week.  Odds are we’re not going to be making that $11 or $12 dollars all year, that’s just our starting wage.  If we just can’t block out that hourly component lets divide our end of year earnings by the hours we worked, it’ll be more, maybe much more if we’ve worked a lot of overtime throughout the year!

And let’s not forget to figure in any benefits the company may be offering too.  Just this week I had a conversation with an employee regarding a monthly bonus which has a potential of $300.00 a month.  One way to look at that is an additional $1.73 an hour if we achieve all the bonus requirements each month!  I know of one company which offers Birthdays paid, that’s 8 hrs pay to add into our yearly income.  And don’t forget vacation pay, many companies may pay out that week or weeks if we don’t take them and that becomes just more to figure into our yearly wage!

Remember, when we quit thinking about just making a weekly paycheck and work just a little on understanding and learning about our wages and finances we will have earned more money at the end of the year.  That’s something I can guarantee you, if we do our part for ourselves we will be richer!

We’ve learned that pay and responsibilities kind of go together.  With each forward move and position we take –  a little more responsibility will be given to us, yes the job is going to be a little harder, we’re responsible for more, and we’re learning so much with it.  Even if we change jobs or companies for whatever reason we now have more skills & experiences to offer our new employer.  On our Twitter feed I found a quote I liked this week by Napoleon Hill “Big pay and little responsibility are circumstances seldom found together”, I couldn’t agree more with him, especially with our chosen profession of Operations, Distribution, Production and Manufacturing!

The bottom line is we have to work and we work for money, money to pay the bills and buy the things our families want and need.  We can however plan for that income, educate ourselves or look down the road a ways and figure out how to come out ahead, really way ahead at the end of each year!  I just thought about a Podcast I listened to last week, kind in line with my topic today, A friend in the financials world released her pilot episode of “Unlocking the secret of Living Rich”, check it out on iTunes and I’m sure it’ll be on Google Play Music as well. You can find it by the title or by her name Cindy B Brown.  I look forward to it being informative, check it out, and you can find her Bio Information there as well.  Well back to our show.

I’ll use those two very important words again, Orientation & Communication.  Let’s be sure to listen and ask questions about our new employer, our benefits and what our job is and what all they have to offer us in the long term and be talking about a Career right from the start.  Let’s impress them on that very first day!

We here at WAOC would be happy to help you any way we can.  We’ve had several young men and women take that next step within their companies and researching that next job with them, please shoot us an email at host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com if you feel we could help or get you some answers or ideas for your own advancement.  We have nothing to sell you all we can offer is experiences, our own experience and the experiences shared by the group.  Shoot us a message if you’d like to share anything or suggest topics or thoughts with the team and our listeners.

I hope I brought up something today that helped you in some way and I look forward to you checking in with us next week, your time and participation is really appreciated.  So as a Safety thought today Lets all think of one thing we’ve noticed us about our facility, one thing we’ve seen that didn’t set well with us or that we think we could make better and bring it up at this week’s Safety meeting and to our supervisor!  Our co-workers and Family will appreciate us thinking about it!

WAOC Mobile in Denver / Outbound Positions & Respecting Equipment

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Welcome back to Warehouse and Operations as a Career, I’m Marty and it’s that time of year where we typically see Opportunities for employment picking up within our Industry.  With summer vacations winding down and Schools gearing up many markets may experience hiring Opportunities and maybe some movement within our departments and promotions to other tasks or duties!  In Distribution this is kind of prime time for Order Selectors, Runners, Haulers or really any position on the outbound or shipping side of the operations.  We’ve had several questions from our recent episodes where we have discussed the electric pallet jacks and the positions of Selecting or picking so I thought we’d hit the high points of Outbound today.  I’m actually traveling this week and have been fortunate enough to run into our Safety Guru or WAOC’s go to Safety Official so Joe is here and he’ll help us with some Equipment Safety Practices and share his thoughts with this time of year Outbound wise.

Joe, Thanks for sitting in and visiting with us today!

JOE – Great to be here especially in this beautiful Colorado weather!!! Marty, things here in the Denver area are really booming in the warehousing and distribution fields.

I’ve seen it too and yes the weather is awesome. Last week I was in Arizona at 116 and this morning’s 58 felt great! It’s a bit noisy here today, Hotels and Distribution Docks aren’t the best locations to podcast from but sometimes the best content comes when the opportunity presents itself right!

Since I have you here I’d like to talk about the respect an Electric Pallet Jacks demand from us.  I personally know of at least 5 instances, all from different companies and across several states thank goodness from well ran organizations where a strong Safety Culture is a daily practice with the crews, I mean an incident can happen anywhere and at any time I guess.  Two of the injuries occurred where a hand was smashed, one – when the jack was ran into another piece of equipment & another where the jack was ran into the racking structure.  Thankfully neither was to serious but severe enough where the individuals lost time and pay and had to deal with an accident investigation.  Ankles and feet has had their share of incidents too.  I heard of two different gentlemen that rolled over their own feet trying to creep their rider jacks instead of riding them to the next stop or slots.  Luckily neither of them was seriously injured as they both were wearing steeltoe boots.  One man really hurt himself though, his foot being caught between the jack and some racking.  I think he missed several weeks of work, I believe he’s fine now but his injury could have been much worse.  It’s so easy to take the dangers for granted when we’re performing our task day in and day out but we have to respect these machines.

JOE –    Marty, when I give an equipment class one of the things I always stress is situational awareness. As an equipment operator, you need to always be on the lookout for people in general. The moment an operator stops doing that, they open up the realm of possibilities. I actually know about one of the incidents you mentioned, and the only reason I remember it was because it actually was not the operators fault yet he injured his hand! I think as this guy was taking his jack to charge right in front of the jack there was an oil spill that prevented him from stopping pinning his hand between the jack and a hard place! That situational awareness is very key in operations.

Yep, “The old saying Look before moving the first inch is an important one!”

I’m seeing so many ad’s for really all kinds of Outbound positions right now – how about we talk about a few of those positions, kind of summarize their duties and tasks I guess.  The first one that comes to mind is order selecting. When we’re working the outbound side of things that very well could be the position we have our eyes on, it typically pays well and I think anyone would agree time flies by when you’re working.  It’s hard work and carries with it some heavy responsibilities.  We’ll be racing the clock, Loaders & Drivers are waiting on the product.  Customers have to have the proper quantities and the correct Items pulled and shipped and of course we have to work smart and Safe while accomplishing all the above!

 

JOE – That’s a great place to start!! A lot of people just see the dollars per hour typically for those positions. I think they typically average $15-$18 dollars per hr to start, because once started you usually get some type of pull incentive for meeting your quota. Yup, that’s right. QUOTA! To do this job you will need to be:

  1. Certified Equipment Operator – to operate the longest of all the jacks, the triple pallet Jack, meaning it holds 3 pallets one after another on the forks. Picking orders will require you stack on all 3 pallets in a sequential order as to match that particular drivers route!!
  2. Technologically Proficient – Order selectors are required to use either scanners and miniature label printers or even more advanced equipment like Vo-collect. Vo0collect is a case picking system that interacts with you via your voice much in the way those iPhone guys talk to seri but about where the cases of product they need are and directions there!
  3. Skilled Material Handler – Meaning you can stack, prepare, wrap and handle materials. Why is this important well imagine if your order calls for some heavy cans, once collected you find out the next product will be large bags of charcoal? These skills will come in handy when you will need to keep that charcoal moving as you are continually adding products you cannot let come into contact with charcoal due to food safety?

So as you can see it is a very involved Job in the warehouse!

Another job I think that has been in great demand are the replenishers.  They work at making sure the order selectors don’t run out of product to pull, kind of the same way large department or grocery stores replenish their isles.  These guys are:

  1. Technologically Proficient – As replenishers they typically run scan guns most likely tied in to the warehouse WMS that tracks all the products. Usually creating a deficit for items placed into replenish areas and then reported as a positive number in the location they were replaced. This is directly tied to the inventory control and ordering needs.
  2. Certified Equipment operator – Will typically operate some form of reach truck to fit compact isles as well as be able to stock the highest and deepest rack the warehouse has. As well as being as safe of an operator as they can possibly be because the amounts these guys lift is considerably more than an order selector can pick.
  3. Skilled Material handler – That can look at pallets and size them up in regards to lifting and working a pallet into storage or stock, what can be lifted and to what extent without additional stretch wrap or whatever else might be needed to safely transport products that vary in every way.

 

Not to sound smart aleky but do you see a pattern here Marty? While they are the same talents they are mission specific to the tasks and equipment they operate yet they require those skills no matter what warehousing Job they hold.

 

Computers and technology are very common in the warehouse. And as technology advances the we will need bright workers that can keep up and bring those applications to the warehouse. Most warehouses have a WMS in place already requiring all new workers to learn it too. From hand held devices such as scanners, label makers and shipping tools to back up mainframes and full office computer systems to keep track of every single box and or item in the warehouse that has value.

 

Skilled equipment operators as well from case pickers to unloaders to put away to replen, just about anyone who operates equipment uses another skill in combination like a tech skill or some other skill. These guys are very much multi task and able to concentrate on a couple different things at a time WHILE BEING SAFE THE WHOLE TIME DOING IT!!!

Good points, with all the different WMS Systems out there today Technology is just another piece of equipment we need to work with.  I believe Phillip helped explain WMS and there many advances in both our WAOC 1st & 2nd Quarterly Round Table Episodes.  Technology is definitely intertwined with our positions today!

You mentioned Order Selecting and Replenishments or Forklift usage, while were talking about Outbound positions and the equipment I’ll bring up Loading.  Many distribution facilities use loaders and that process may be a component of their WMS as well.  I love the little short very maneuverable pallet jacks or loader jacks on the market today.  And we may have to actually confirm the loading of and the positioning within the trailer for the drivers load mapping sheets.  Again, a safe and useful tool to aid in our duties yet it needs to be shown adequate respect at all times, they can get away from you quick due to the quick turning radius involved inside a trailer or on the dock plate.

Joe – That is definitely not for beginners and a skilled task. We always need to be cautious when operating any type of equipment. I have seen the single jacks your talking about Marty toss operators off like a bucking bronc because they lost that respect for the equipment! Small but very powerful. It’s easy to forget how much muscle they have.

 

In your opinion what’s the learning curve to proficient operation of powered industrial equipment? I know it’s different with each individual but if I’m a young Lead or Sup with a New Boot, is there a timeline I can use?

JOE – I really think that would be dependent on a person’s tech skills, the sharper you are at picking up your warehouses management system the more productive and resourceful you become. Then it will be up to each individual to figure out the most efficient way to apply that so that it makes us faster, more productive and more valuable. Since each Job is different the learning curve and time frame you have to become proficient will vary.

 

Bottom line is we shouldn’t be anxious about learning to use the equipment. We should stay away from it until we’re trained on it and Respect it while learning it and using it.  Never take it for granted, yes it can be dangerous to us and others but it’s just another tool for us when used properly!

Joe, Thanks for speaking with us today, we always appreciate your time.  I’m sure we all here at WAOC learned a thing or two today, you presented some great thoughts for us to ponder Sir.

JOE – Always a pleasure to share my .02 cents with whoever will listen. Especially when I can find you out on the road like this in such great surroundings.

 

And of course I want to thank all you listeners for checking in with us today, I hope you enjoyed our discussion and topics today.  Please feel free to email us Host@warehouseandoperationsasacareer.com with any comments or with something you’d like us to look into for you.  We enjoy finding answers for you and talking about what interest or challenges you!  Have a Safe Week and Be careful out there, Look before moving the first inch!

Making Job Boards, Social Media & Job Postings Work for Us!

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And a new week is upon us here at Warehouse and Operations as a Career, we appreciate you listening in today and hope you’re having a Productive and prosperous one.  We had a great time last week visiting with so many Individuals at the Job Fair, it was great being able to speak with everyone out in the field and we hope you enjoyed the show! We’re going to try and get out and go mobile more often and talk to others, people really performing the tasks that you’re interested in!  The topic of Job Seeking on Social Media came up a couple of times this month, maybe with us speaking about Resumes and Interviewing it’s been pushed to the forefront of our minds so I thought we’d look into that segment of the Recruiting and Sourcing or how the different Agencies are using Social Media to get the word out there on positions and job opportunities there working to fill & maybe we can discuss a few of our responsibilities as job seekers and applicants or maybe what we should be doing or need to be doing to get that interview and be placed in one of the positions.  Here in a bit we’ll be visiting with an Administrator of just one such group and get their thoughts on what they are and how to use them to our advantage!

For today’s topics let’s start with the Job Boards, maybe that’s not really Social Media I guess but it is an on-line platform and there’s many many of them so I’m going to assume their each worth our time and energy.

Companies can utilize Job Boards as a form of advertising, posting the positions there needing to fill.  There’s several that are free for the company to use but I find typically the positions are presented to a small market, maybe like a local market, and usually only hits or produces off of one or two keywords.  To really reach us, or us the prospective employees, a company may subscribe to a service or purchase X number of resumes or hits for review.  I mentioned keywords a bit ago, keywords could be something like Sanitation, Warehouse, Order Selector, Loader, words we may key in when we’re looking for employment or positions, what we’re good at or qualified to do.  We use to look at the classified section on the newspaper to look for employment and companies that are hiring, a tedious process, carrying around a section of the paper every day.  Job Boards seems to be the primary classifieds now as far as employment offerings go. There really easy to navigate and search by position and keywords, we can look at just the things were interested in.  They make it easy for companies to search for candidates as well, keying in the same words of Sanitation, Order selector, Loader etc, they can see resumes from just those of us that possess those skills and are seeking those positions!

Most all the larger ones, and there’s some Hugh ones out there with I guess like millions of hits a day are free to us job seekers, the employer pays to post or advertise their open position.  As we’ve spoke to before, there can be a lot of candidates replying to the position were interested in and it’s of the upmost importance that our reply, our resume and work history is presented in such a way that it’s going to get noticed and were going to get that phone interview.  I read an article from our Twitter feed last month where it stated that if we’ve spent less than a day writing our resume, rereading it and making changes then we haven’t put in the time needed to catch HR’s attention.  I’m not certain about all that but as we’ve discussed before I do feel it’s important we present or sell our experiences and accomplishments and use as many keywords as is relevant to the job’s we’ve done and the position we’re after!  If you missed our episode entitled The Resume, episode 5 I think, go check it out, I think we covered a few different types or formats and walked through using keywords to grab our hiring agent’s attention!

Social Media, while researching for this episode I learned that many people may consider the Internet it’s self a form of social media now.  I notice advertisements, true advertising about employment in banners and side platforms even when we’re looking up subjects and such.  And with all the targeted advertising out there we can have those types of ad’s thrown at us just by visiting a Job Board or doing a keyword search such as employment!  I had a question last week while at the job fair I guess we could talk about for a minute or two.  I was asked what I thought of using Groups within social media to research companies we may be interested in.  I’m actually a member of or have joined about a dozen different groups, really just to see what’s happening with employment across the nation, many cities have their own usually created by someone just interested in helping others find employment.  I personally think their great and a very useful platform for us.  What I do see a lot of is Agencies or Recruiters posting the same positions throughout the community of groups so we’ll see the same posting in several different groups.  And the number of members may be an indicator of quality of content, or maybe not I guess, since we see them listed in so many groups.  I joined one that says to have 56k members, one that states 26k, one that shows 3k and a few more that range from 187 to 1k.  As I said, I usually see postings by the same agencies and recruiters so I think it just matters that we’re looking at a few or at least 1!  Agencies and recruiters probably join so many due to the fact they need help and want to get there needs and offers out there to as many of us as possible.  Again, this is why it’s so important that our resume and work history is short yet specific enough to get us noticed when its being read, Oh and using keywords that are going to appeal to them as it relates to their posting or offering!

 

Now, how do we reply to those posts or how we should not reply to those posts may be the more pertinent question.

First I think we have to remember this is a job posting.  Usually we’ll see the Position or what the job is, like warehouseman, the work week and shift hours could be listed and the pay is typically in there somewhere.  We’ll usually be given an address and maybe times to apply or a phone number could be listed for us to call for more information.  We want to be remembered here so our reply needs to be constructive and to the point.  I’ve seen many times a reply sent as “interested”, that may not get us an interview or even someone reaching out to us.  Another one is “PM me specifics”, I’m thinking the recruiter could think they have already shared the specifics with us.  I’m told the best replies, at least in a recruiters eyes are more like “I have 3 years’ experience and will come in and apply tomorrow” or “Thanks (Recruiters Name) I will call this afternoon and ask for you”.  I think questions are fine as well, it may just be important to keep them relevant though, something like “is this position background friendly, I have 5 years’ experience” would be perfectly fine or “I have experience, Is this company on a bus line” is to the point and can be answered.  Something like just “background checked and a question mark” may be passed over or if we ask “drug test” we may not have anyone reach out to us.  Our goal is to get our information to them, for them to remember us, get a meeting with them.  In my experience we need to remember these people could be our next employer, there not our close friends, there not even acquaintances, we need to do something to get them to reach out to us and want to know more about what we can do.  They need help, an employee, and this may very well be our chance to get selected, at least leave a positive thought with them.  And it’s been suggested to me that we try and be brief in our comments and not necessarily try and carry on a conversation, write enough to be noticed and then follow their directions as to where to go and when or where to call and whom to ask for.  I’d write something or leave a comment though and let them know were coming by or giving them a call, I think it only shows them were very interested and that there search is over, they’ve found the employee they need!

We have John on the phone with us today to share a few thoughts with us, maybe give us some pointers as to Job Boards and Social Media groups.  John’s visited with us a few times before, spoken with us regarding Staffing Agencies, how they work and how we can work with Recruiters and has attended both of our WAOC Round Table Discussions.  John is the North American V.P. of Operations for a large Sourcing Solutions company and he’s the Admin for an Job Board Group on Social Media and has just started a Open Discussion Group for Warehouse Workers also.

John Welcome back to WAOC Sir, I hope I got all those accomplishments correct?

John

 

  1. So you and your Teams probably look through a hundred different Resumes from several different Job Boards every day. Are any of them written differently or better than others, what makes one stick out over the other, everything being equal experience wise, is there something we can do where you’ll call us first over the other one? Kind of a long question isn’t it!

 

John –

 

 

  1. I know you run a Social Media Group of your own & participate in several others. Could you share with us why you started yours and what you think of Groups?

 

John –

 

  1. Any opinions or suggestions for us as we’re job hunting as it relates to Job Boards and Social Media?

 

John –

 

John Thanks for speaking with us today, you helped clarify a few of my concerns and I’m sure several of our groups questions were answered today.  How about visiting with us again one day, maybe give us a follow-up interview after we’ve tried some of your suggestions?

 

John –

 

Social Media and Job Boards are so powerful and useful to us as Job Seekers today, I hope WAOC sparked a few thoughts & maybe answered a couple of questions you had on how to get noticed by the person posting the position and how to be that chosen candidate!

Until next week we here at WAOC wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and we’d like to remind us all that Safety at home and the workplace begins with each of us!