No matter how large or small a food company is they will have to a certain extent a place for storage of their products. Storage of products is vital to any business as this allows them to build up a surplus of items ready to be shipped out at anytime.
More importantly warehouses act as the places where items can be received and sent out.
The first to see a product when it enters the building and the last to see it when it leaves. Warehouse associates are vital team members in ensuring that products get to you.
That’s why this week FoodGrads is exploring the important and meaningful career of Warehouse Associates and how they deliver excellent results in a fast-paced industry.
1 . Warehouse associates receive items
Warehouse associates are individuals responsible for:
The prompt and accurate assembly of customer orders from warehouse facilities. Warehouse associates are responsible for confirming that all orders are accurate and assembled free from defects through perfect presentation. Furthermore, depending on the size of the company they will also load/unload shipments of incoming supplies and prepare shipments for delivery. In addition, warehouse associates abide by good manufacturing practices and safe work procedures.
Overall, the role that a warehouse associate will take on will depend on the size of the company. If the company is large the professional may only be responsible for picking orders and assembling them for customers. Other workers will solely work in receiving, taking order off a truck and dealing with customers/transportation that way.
2. Warehouse associates assist with inventory
When you walk into a warehouse no matter what the size is you will come across rows upon rows of items. Each space with in this network of rows has designated “space” which can be filled or not. For example, you might have 40 cases of a product with in a certain space which allows inventory control to track every movement. It is very important that workers record all of their actions as this relevant to inventory. If a person moves an item with no one knowing this could mean big trouble when they want to rush out an item. People will be looking at it forever!
3. Warehouse associates move around a lot
When supplies are received in at manufacturing plant they come on pallets. Typically they are well organized and stacked properly but this dosen’t always happen. In some cases the supplies need to be removed and fixed meaning things can get quite physical. Warehouse associates need to be strong enough to move bags from one place to another. Not to mention this is a job where they are constantly on their feet (when they are not on a forklift).
4. Warehouse associates need to be able to use forklifts
A tote of sugar can weigh up to 2000lbs which as you can already tell is a lot of weight. So much weight that you can’t simply move it around with just a pump truck. You need something massive like a forklift! Though you can’t just hop on a forklift and drive around you need a certification. Therefore, the majority of warehouse associates have forklift certification so they can move heavy items around a manufacturing plant.
5. Warehouse associates have this kind of education
No post-secondary education is typically required for this position. It is not uncommon for many food manufacturing facilities to only require this warehouse associates to have a high school diploma or GED. Individuals in this field of work usually start in lower level warehouse positions and work their way up to higher positions.
This could be an excellent entry point to a more senior role within the food industry.
6. Warehouse associates talk with truck drivers
If you work in the receiving portion of the manufacturing plant then you need to be comfortable talking with truck drivers. Receiving is another term used to describe the portion of a manufacturing plant where supplies a received from trucks.
When trucks carrying ingredient come to the manufacturing plant they go to the dock and warehouse associates take the items off the truck. During this time these professionals talk with truck drivers. Sometimes if a shipment is bad then they need to reject the shipment–something not everyone is comfortable doing.
7. Warehouse associates count items
No matter where you work in the warehouse you will have to do some counting at some point. In the shipping area warehouse associates make sure the number of items match the purchasing order and every item is correctly accounted for. When receiving items warehouse associates count skids to ensure that they are not short shipped items. If not enough items come in the plant than this could mean products are not being made that day!
8. Warehouse associates have this set of skills
As with any occupation there are certain sets of skills which will aid you better than others. For a warehouse associate these skills include:
Ability to work in a fast pace environment – Food production facilities are fast paced environments and that goes for the warehouse as well! These professionals need to be comfortable moving products quickly in and out all with a high level of accuracy.
Keen power of observation- There are two major portions of a warehouse- receiving and shipping. In receiving warehouse associates need to have a keen eye for detail in order to make sure quality ingredients enter the warehouse. They need to make sure there is no possible compromises to the product and the order received matches the paper work. In shipping, warehouse associates need to make the company’s product exits the facility with the presentation.
Ability to organize their work– As mentioned earlier warehouse associates are responsible for moving product around the manufacturing facility. These professional need to be organized so they can account for all of their actions and know at a moments notice where every item they have received is.
Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a recent Chemistry grad from Ryerson University and loves looking at the science in the kitchen. She has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavours you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.
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