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There’s a classic “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel go to work in a candy factory. This was probably the first time anyone had ever seen an actual pick and pack procedure in action. All they had to do was wrap the candies as they rolled past on a conveyor belt.
Naturally, Lucy was playing for comedy so when the call from the supervisor of “speed it up” happened, it ended in a gooey disaster. But there should be nothing funny about a fulfillment center’s obligation to provide competent pick and pack services for their clients.
And should the call for “speed it up” come down from upper management then the staff should be prepared to handle the additional work load in a professional and proficient manner.
Once a successful fulfillment center is up and running they should have a clear picture of exactly how many typical orders can be processed during the course of a standard work day shift.
Along with that information management should also know the specific staff requirements needed for fulfillment along with the necessary support materials needed to accomplish those goals.
This is an essential set of numbers need for when a fulfillment company is looking to expand their business by bringing on additional clients. For instance if a staff of 20 can move a thousand orders in a shift then adding ten more workers will allow for at least five hundred more orders to be shipped out and so on.
Aside from providing information to potential new clients, knowing how fulfillment staff expedites orders comes into play during increases in business like the holiday shopping season. It stands to reason that on-line orders will boost from November through December. To be prepared for this up tick, new pick and pack workers have to be added. But they can’t merely be brought in on the Friday after Thanksgiving and expect to be up to speed by Cyber Monday. There needs to be an adequate training period well in advance of the holiday so the new staff members will be able to blend seamlessly into the fulfillment operation. That last thing a fulfillment centers needs is to bog down the shipping line because a new hire doesn’t know where they keep the packing tape!
Throughout the year, fulfillment center employees can be called on to work additional hours depending on the demands of order processing. If the logistics have been worked out, this shouldn’t be a problem for anyone on the line. On the other hand, supervisors need to watch out for tell tale signs of overworked employees. This is where quality control steps up to the plate and insures that the packages moving through the center have been properly sorted and addressed. Does this mean there won’t ever be any pressure during fulfillment? Of course not but the benchmark of a qualified fulfillment operation is being prepared to handle the many ebbs and flows of shipping product.