Logistics: The Ever-Moving Target
By Evan Coulter
Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a series by Evan, who is UCEC’s Vice President of Operations.
I’ve been thinking a good bit about logistics lately. It’s no wonder: logistics make a custom electrical panel shop run smoothly. There are moving parts, moving people and moving schedules. One of my jobs is keeping up with all of those important parts.
We might start the work week with defined lists of to-do’s and then we receive a phone call from a customer, tweaking a small or large detail. At UCEC, this type of change is expected and welcomed. In fact, you might have read our President and CEO Mark Inboden’s thoughts on “No Bureaucracy” on the blog last month. We strive to do what our customer wants, all of the time.
After that phone call, we’ll quickly adjust a schedule or deadline, usually with a hallway discussion or a visit to the shop. The conversation and the changes might actually take place with our customer, because we encourage each one to visit their panels in the shop as construction takes place.
Logistics also involves the master schedule as a whole. Sometimes, deadlines can shift because the location where the panel is shipping isn’t ready yet. Or in other cases, the deadline moves up and we have to get our job done faster. In each situation, we have to listen and be sensitive to all of the factors going into the project.
With logistics, I have learned how to shift staffing in the shop to cover an urgent need. Our guys are true professionals; they know if they’re moved from one job to another, it’s not personal. We all just need to pull together and get the job across the finish line.
In addition to moving pieces like scheduling and deadlines, there’s supply ordering and shipping. Shipping is something we take very seriously. For instance, we try to ship the correct way, not the cheapest way. That means sourcing in most cases dedicated trucks with air-ride suspension. A dedicated truck makes sure that the panel travels from our dock to our customer's dock with no off-loading or multiple transfers.
With international shipping by sea, it means we (or our customers) hire a crating company that creates a custom-made crate with disease-free wood (a customs requirement). The panels themselves are encased in a vapor bag that minimizes the effects of salt air and moisture.
So, that’s what’s on my mind this week: all of those moving parts. No day is the same, but that makes it fun. Now, back to arranging all the parts and pieces. See you next time. Thanks for dropping by the blog.
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