By Jennifer Erb
2017-03-292017-03-29https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
IENG Undergrad Class of 2015
What does the company do? OnTrac is a parcel logistics company with operations throughout the Western United States, arranging overnight delivery at ground rates to more than 60 million consumers. OnTrac was founded in 1991, and has grown to become a top choice for e-commerce and companies looking to speed up delivery without the cost of express shipping.
Current role: Regional Industrial Engineering Manager (RIE), Southwest Region, Operations Support
Overall summary of a RIE Manager for a shipping company: I have six facilities that I provide engineering support to. The Southwest facilities are Phoenix, Buckeye, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Las Vegas and Denver. I travel about 60% of the year so that I can make myself available to each of these facilities on a regular basis. My job responsibilities include several different tasks. I must develop short term volume and staffing plans for each of my facilities. These plans also include methodologies for facilities operating plans and standards for efficient labor utilization. I work to provide cost efficient optimized pickup and delivery operations and procedures. I also develop and conduct training programs for field management to improve productivity and the understanding of engineering standards. This could be something as simple as teaching someone how to do flow counts or as complicated as teaching a manager how to develop daily staffing plans based off of their projected volumes. I work with facility managers to define, standardize and document operations procedures for all pickup and delivery job functions. I analyze the current facility material handling systems and make recommendations for improvements on a cost effective basis. In case of system failure or other issues, I also develop viable contingency plans for all of my facilities. I also have many other duties and daily tasks that come to my attention. Providing direct support to operations requires me to be flexible and available at all times.
Below is an example of a recent day I’ve had while in my base facility.
My day starts at 6:45AM, when I wake up and begin getting ready for work. Dress code is business casual, except for Fridays. Monday-Thursday I wear dress pants and blouses. Friday’s are casual and I usually wear jeans. Although, sometimes when working in the field I can also wear jeans.
I leave my house at 7:40AM. The drive to my base facility is 20 minutes. I arrive at work and immediately begin my day with a cup of coffee. I check my email as well as my calendar to check for meetings. I then begin compiling reports that I sent out to my region and the company. By 8:30, I will have already sent out a recap report for my region with our numbers/goals for the previous week. I find this to be one of the most useful reports for me because I can monitor each of my facility’s performance daily. It also pushes those facility’s sort managers to monitor their numbers closely. By 10:00, I will have already sent out 7 reports on a Monday. Every other day of the week consists of 3 reports that I send out. These reports consist of compiling data and rolling up this data into an Excel file.
I then take a walk out to the warehouse where packages are still being sorted down to the van level. The vans will dispatch at 10:30AM for the first wave. This time varies by facility and also by the type of service a package requires. I speak with my operations managers to see if there are any issues with material handling, staffing, scanning etc. If there is, I will look into these issues and come up with a solution for them. I usually spend the rest of my morning before lunch communicating with the six facilities I support to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed. I am constantly in and out of the warehouse doing many hands on tasks. I work directly with operations which means I am communicating with many people every day. It is rare for me to have a day where I am sitting at my desk for the entire span of my day.
I usually take my lunch break by 11:45. Sometimes I will head to lunch with coworkers or eat in the break room with them. On special occasions, my boss will take the engineering team members based in my facility to lunch. On busy days, I eat at my desk to get some more work done.
At 1:00PM on Mondays, I have a conference call with all of the head Facility General Managers (GM) for the Southwest region, the Regional General Manager (RGM), and the Director of the region. During the first portion of the call, I will discuss performance of each facility with that respective GM. This is where they can let me know of any issues that occurred the previous week causing them to miss their performance goals. These can range anywhere from weather delays to short staffing to material handling system breakdowns. At this time, GMs can also share with the region aspects of the previous week that helped them have successful days. After going over the numbers, we take time to state any company or regional updates that may be important. This is usually done by the RGM. If necessary, the Director will speak to the region about anything he would like to have happen such as cost cutting in specific areas. We then open the floor to questions and end the call.
I spend a good amount of time looking into different reports regarding my facilities to monitor their numbers and see where I can provide support to them. This is the time when I decide which facility I will travel to next. I find it important to provide support to the facilities that are struggling the most so that we can make improvements as fast as possible.
At 3:00PM, I have a daily call regarding different missed scans and missed revenue with the company as a whole. The people required to join this call are the GMs of the facilities who did not reach their goal for the previous day.
Every day, I receive many different calls and requests from people who require my assistance. These issues have a large range of variety. These issues can have to do with things such as staffing, material handling, service delays, standards, performance, etc.
When I am traveling to a facility, I find myself working long days; sometimes up to 15 hours. I try to spend as much time working with each GM and sort manager to ensure I have covered all of the bases I can while there. I spend the majority of my time out in the warehouse observing the sort and finding issues that need to be addressed.
Once the clock hits 5:00PM, I am headed home for the night! Looking back at the end of the day, something that gives me the most satisfaction is when I know that I was directly responsible for an improvement that benefited the company.
Suggestions to students who might be interested in a career like mine – Be willing to travel and to have a flexible schedule. Don’t be afraid to do things that are out of your job description. Part of working in the field is being ready to take on any type of challenge. On a daily basis, many people will be coming to you asking for support/help. Make sure to communicate as much as possible. Being a team player will take you far.
What’s the goal? My current goal is to eventually become a Senior IE Manager where I can manage other regional engineers. Eventually, I hope to become a head engineer/engineering director for a company.
Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college – I did not realize how much there is to learn after college. Starting a new role requires you to not only understand a whole new industry, but also be able to complete your job responsibilities. I still find myself asking many questions to learn more.
Least favorite thing about regional level – Unfortunately, I cannot be everywhere at once. I would love to be able to visit each of my facilities more often.
My 2 cents – Try and learn something new about the industry you work in every single day!