A very clear picture of operations and operational management exists in the loading bays at FedEx. It was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of operational management. The packages that whirl around the conveyer belt inside of the factory. Working there in August gave me a taste of what operations really look like. My job was simple I had to stack boxes inside trucks and get the trucks loaded quickly (400 boxes an hour). Both exercises that we did in class apply to what I was doing at FedEx. For building the puppets we were trained how to handle the boxes and to make sure nothing gets broken or put in the wrong trucks. For the building of the structure that was to hold up the 50 pages, I had to stack boxes so they would be stable. This was very important since if the walls of boxes aren’t built to hold they can fall on and injure the employees that have to unload the trucks. But building something that supports paper is not just a physical thing, building a successful business means building a structure that can sustain itself through technology and proper management that will then in turn increase and better operations.
The operational management at FedEx is built on strict procedures. When working for FedEx I got to see the many different important rules delineated in the employee handbook. It is the starting point for all employees. The main philosophy is to prepare workers to work the same way whether they be in China or the US. It is designed to create the best workers who will work effectively and efficiently in handling the operations of the company. To begin to do this workers must go through a week of training which starts with lectures, after that week they start hands on in the trucks with one week supervision to make sure everything is up to standards and codes. The employee handbook has a critical part in this process. There is the Workright Manual which gives step by step rules and procedures as well as the codes and standards. There is a passport that describes dock safety. And a hazmat training guide for package handlers.
I also had a chance to tour the control room and found out that on average day, FedEx forecasts that it will load anywhere from 17,000 to 25,000 in a three and a half hour shift. The managers were very friendly and many of them, from sort manager to area manager to vice president of operations came and showed me how to properly stack boxes when I was starting. This compares to a good teacher that understands learning is done through experience and through advice given when being trained or when you are working.
The human element combined with training and schooling makes operations and operational management possible.