Order Fulfillment Solutions Center - Packing Function
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Packer's Job Description Might Actually Be the Problem

Many think of the “Packer” as the person who just puts product into boxes, fills void spaces and seals the carton.

Close examination however tells a different story. Read the article defining the 8 steps in a pick and pack operation and look at your own packing operation. Don’t be surprised if your packer is doing a multifunctional job!

If the packing function is going to involve more than putting items into a box, adjust the work environment and time allowances to properly evaluate efficiency and productivity expectations.

Today’s technology allows many of the functions to be handled electronically. However, the systems represent substantial capital investment and still only function properly if they are installed correctly and used without human error. In smaller systems many of the jobs end up at the packing function.

It is strongly suggested that a detailed job description is prepared, so workers know exactly what is expected and how they will be evaluated.

How to Define and Write Your Packer's Job Description

Step 1: Define the Packer's Responsibilities

Check off the responsibilities you will give to your packer.

  • Pick the order
  • Sort the order
  • Consolidate the order
  • Check the items against the Packing List or Bill of Material
  • Final quality control
  • Pre-wrap items
  • Pack, void fill, and close the cartons
  • Address and label the carton
  • Manifest the shipment
  • Stage or transport the order to the dock

The more responsibility delegated to the packing position, the slower the process. In the ideal system Pickers pick, Checkers consolidate, check and perform quality control, Packers pack, and Shippers do the manifesting. The steady repetition of doing one job greatly increases output and efficiency. However, in smaller applications this is not always practical or cost efficient.

People’s skills vary. Some may be very fast Pickers but slow Checkers. Others may be very good at detail work (ideal checkers and consolidators) but very slow at packing. Some workers may have trouble with electronic products like Manifesting systems.

When practical, look at the possibility of dividing the workforce into more single task segments. This allows each worker to do the functions they are most qualified to do. Then cross train to improve productivity and make the entire packing function more flexible. Whenever there is a bottleneck, trained people can be deployed to adjust.

Step 2: Establish Written Procedures for Each Individual Responsibility

It is strongly suggested that procedural standards are written for each of the 10 responsibilities. Be detailed and specific about what methods and procedures are to be used. This will leave no questions about what is expected. Specify what results are expected.

Let your definitions be challenged. Consult with the workers. Let them have some input to the process. Get their opinions on procedures. Maintaining good mutual relationships pays big dividends.

The workers are usually the best source for finding the small efficiencies that make the system become more productive. If the ideas make common sense, give them a chance. If they help operations change your procedure.

Remember it’s the accumulation of small savings that add up to cost reduction and better productivity.

Step 3: Setting Job Standards and Measureable Goals

Establish a measurable time increment or output goal. This gives the worker and his manager a basis to measure job performance. If the goals are realistically set based on a steady pace, the worker will be able to evaluate his own performance and it will increase overall moral.

For instance, if the job calls for wrapping glasses with protective material, define what material is to be used, how many wraps will be typical and how long it should take to complete one cycle. This will allow you to determine an hourly output and it creates the wrapping standard.

It is not always practical to be able to find a perfect standard, however do your best to set either a time or unit output goal. Goals are great equalizers among employees.

General goals can be set for the entire department. These measure the overall performance of the team. It is a good way to keep track of overall output and quality.

  • Total daily orders shipped
  • Accuracy Rate (error free orders/total orders shipped)
  • Completed rate (complete orders shipped/total orders)
  • Damage Rate (orders damaged /total orders)
  • On time shipments Rate (Number of orders shipped in quoted time/total orders shipped)
  • Return Ratio (Orders returned/total orders shipped)

Once the goals and standards are established, monitor workers. Make sure the levels are attainable on a consistent basis at a reasonable work pace.

Goals and standards help evaluate the job force. As workers are cross-trained you quickly learn about individual skills. This provides the ability to match worker’s skills to the right tasks.

Finally goals and standards position you to be able to introduce output related incentives or promotion opportunities. When a worker is reviewed, there are concrete issues to discuss rather than relying solely on personnel evaluation.