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:
- 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!!
- 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!
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!