Treat and Trick

Forgive the title. I know I shouldn’t be making easy, thoughtless puns on crass holidays, but judge for yourself when you have read.

At the end of every month we are substantially shy of our shipping quota, and at the end of every month the shipping manager asks for any available help from the rest of the plant. Perhaps one time in six we actually see people in response to our requests.

Today, looking at how far we had to go to reach the quota, and what our rate of shipments had been the previous day, I noted in a report on our status toward goal that we would not make it without additional help. I expected to see few if any people come down to help. I also did not think we would really need any help, inasmuch as it seemed to me that the majority of shippable orders were shipped. I figured product completed today our normal crew could handle. About noon I thought we were surely going to run out of orders. And midway through the afternoon, when we really were just about to run out and have to send all our unexpected help away, orders came pouring in.

This was a result of the assembly areas finishing off their work, and sending it to us late in the day.

Originally the shipping manager said we would work 10 hours, starting at 6am and leaving at 5pm so employees with kids could enjoy Halloween. About half the crew came in at 5 am (myself at 5:30) because of the work we had outstanding from the end of work on Tuesday. There we were, late in the afternoon, surrounding by people who had been rousted from their normal jobs to help us. Several members of plant staff were there. We had an abundance of orders to process.

The problem is that our shipping area is not meant to handle a much larger crew than we usually run. Two or three extra people we can accomodate. But the more extra people, the more specialized the skills really need to be. Can you run the shipping terminal? Can you operate a forktruck? Can you operate the stretch wrapper? Can you even pick tools without making serious errors, and will the person who is packing your order know enough to catch your mistake?

What began as a sane day, just us shipping folk shipping out what we could for the end of the month, turned into a madhouse of shippable product, clueless help, and management scrutiny. I was the last to leave (because I had to send of the final report) at 7 pm. Most of our crew 15-30 minutes earlier.

And the production manager had the chutzpah to ask me why were going to be able to ship all of the orders (that had dropped late in the day), and why we weren’t changing our process to accomodate the last-minute production that happens every month. Talk about backwards! Why isn’t production fixing their issues so we can ship at a sane pace all month long?

So we had an unexpected treat in all the extra help. But it had a fishook inside of it.

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