How many people does it take to run a warehouse? Well, it depends, really. For some, their warehouse is just the place to store inventory. For others, the warehouse makes up an active and complex fulfillment center with automated systems, robots, and industrial engineering.
Even with new equipment and technology, fulfillment and warehousing are still labor-driven activities. Some big fulfillment centers hire an extra 1,000 employees over the holiday season alone! Having this many employees around heavy equipment working as quickly as possible makes safety a top priority.
We’re all about the people at Speed Commerce so we’ll tell you a little bit about the people that make our fulfillment the best ever!
Warehouses are a place of constant activity, so it’s no surprise that every year distribution centers report injuries and fatalities that could have been avoided by a few safety precautions. Enter the safety manager! This person’s responsibilities include fostering a safety-minded culture in the warehouse through OSHA training and education, investigating onsite accidents to determine the cause and recommend preventative measures, managing the employee health and safety guidelines set forth by both the company and local/state/federal laws, and implementing and creating programs that promote safety and security of warehouse employees.
This awesome individual supervises, organizes, and monitors inventory receiving, storage, and distribution. They oversee the ‘worker bees’ to ensure that they’re on task at all times, performing to the metrics required, and often train new employees.
A warehouse manager monitors all warehouse activities, including receiving, order filling, shipping, and inventory control. Their responsibilities involve scheduling tasks for personnel, helping your VP of Operations or COO negotiate rates with carriers, creating daily work logs, collecting actionable data related to labor, shrinkage, fill rate, etc., planning more efficient operations, and of course, supervising and training warehouse employees and their supervisors.
The inventory clerk is responsible for various clerical duties for warehousing, receiving, and shipping materials. In most cases, this person handles relationships with vendors and/or suppliers and is responsible for monitoring inventory performance, and assists in creating purchase orders to replenish stock before it runs out. They’re also heavily involved with keeping inventory counts in check!
The Material Handlers
Depending on the size of the operation, a fulfillment center may have employees who do only one job, are cross-trained for multiple jobs, or do something completely different! But these ‘worker bees’ in the fulfillment warehouse are the ones that make the operation run efficiently:
- Pickers: Receive orders that drop to the warehouse floor, then head out to collect the item(s) for each order to prepare for shipment.
- Packers: Take the picked orders, scan them in as ‘ordered’, then pack them into appropriate packaging for shipment. They also include any package inserts, custom packaging, and the packing slip in the order.
- Receivers: Unload inbound freight from carrier trucks, process it into inventory, and ensure that each delivery is accurate.
- Stockers (also called replenishment): Take inventoried items from receiving and move them to either a storage area or to the warehouse floor. They’re also responsible for replenishing any bins of products that are out or low.
- Assemblers or Value-Adders: If there’s a kit to be pieced together, a gift to be wrapped, an order to be personalized, or something else – these are the talented folks who make it happen. At many operations, we have packers who can do many of these things right from the packing station! Our team can personalize products with company logos, names, graphics, and more with our embroidery and engraving services.
- Returns: Guess what these people do? Yep! They process inbound returned orders, remove from packaging, and visually inspect them. They receive and document these returns, then either refurbish the item and return it to replenishment for restocking or work with the retailer/manufacturer to have the product returned to them.