This week I got out of the office and onto a 36 foot trailer. Riding along with a driver was a big change but I learned a lot from it. I got to work at 3:45am for our 4am departure, I was happy to learn that our truck had already been loaded and was ready to go. This may seem early to some, but considering how important it is to take advantage of key stops, getting in and out without being in the way of customers and employees, 4am is fairly late. The route I was on took me around to 11 different customers in the Flint, Mi area. Although, I shouldn’t name specific customers, I saw some of the issues the driver faces every day at each stop. Some customers want freezer, cooler and dry broken up further into subcategories and others are down two flights of stairs. The ease at which this driver managed to wedge the truck on the shoulder of a 45mph road was without a doubt impressive.
I primarily worked the truck, sorting out items on each pallet by stop. I saw how easy it can become frustrating when the heaviest item belongs at the first stop, but ends up on the bottom of the pallet. This was a common theme, and I realized that pallet picking could be a major area of improvement for US Foods. Driver efficiency cold be greatly increased if we could find a better system. I think it could be improved by simply designating a clockwise or counter clockwise build to the pallet and building the products for each stop in their own zones. That’s just one option, and I look forward to seeing what other strategies could be used to combat this issue.
What I will take away from this day the most however, is the importance of driver-customer interaction. I think the personal relationship this driver had with each of the customers was such a positive thing for the company and it’s really something we should strive for. It was hard work, no doubt about it, but I have such a respect for our drivers that I couldn’t have understood before, and I hope I earned a little of theirs as well.