The Art of Shipping
By Paula Zangari
I have an interesting job at UCEC in that I often touch a panel project when it’s just a collection of parts...and then I make sure the finished, hand-crafted panel is scheduled for a safe and on-time delivery to its final destination. You might say I’m a part of our panels from start to finish!
As the warehouse manager, I organize parts, materials and supplies that arrive daily from vendors with the help of my team. I also handle shipping (in addition to receiving, ordering nameplates and terminal tags; invoicing; and some purchasing as needed, but that’s a story for another day!).
Shipping is something that can take a good chunk of time to get just right. When a job begins, I typically look over the purchase order to see if there are any special requirements for shipping. For instance, some customers require 48 hours notice before we load their panels up on trucks. I’ll also check to see if the customer has requested a certain carrier or a specific way of shipping.
When the panel project is ready to go, I take my notes and start contacting the carrier we’ve selected (or that the customer has requested) and I let them know the weight and dimensions of the panel. For panels we ship internationally, I’ll reach out to the crate-building company we use and schedule them to come to UCEC to craft a custom crate.
Next up are the pictures of the projects. We take extensive pictures of our panels for a couple of reasons. First, it’s helpful to have a record of what we shipped. Second, many of our customers order additional, similar panels weeks or months later. When this happens, we simply pull up the file for that particular panel on the server and view the panel colors and wiring we used. Then, we match the new panels to the old.
After the photos, I make the bill of lading and also ensure that any items (such as extra fuses) are included. The panel is cleaned up and we double-check that the terminal tags are fastened on. Then, we put metal banding around the panel and shrink wrap the entire thing. Finally, I check in with the contact person at the job site and make sure they’re ready for delivery. I’ve learned that many people can say, “Ship it!” but unless I speak with the person who is onsite where the panel is planned to go, there’s a chance things could go wrong. So, I make sure to make contact with the right person onsite.
Shipping is a delicate balancing act, but I love solving problems. Often, I can find small details that aren’t quite right. This problem solving keeps me on my toes and makes every day a little different.
Paula is an Operations Support Manager at UCEC.
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