Friday night, work was packed to the rim with everything they could throw at us, and my name came up to do (what the employees lovingly call) The Tour. This job is perhaps one of the most difficult, and requires the most skills that a labour must have to accomplish it in my crew. Because on the night shift we handle, receive, sort, pack, and unpack, all the stock for the business, the final job of putting stock away that cannot fit onto the floor is done by the Order Picker, or O.P., as it is referred to in our alphabet soup of acronyms. So they call that job The Tour, and once chosen, you are asked to do The Tour.
The machine that is used is called the Order Picker, and looks like a forklift without forks, but has instead a platform on the back it for lifting stock on to. Unlike a forklift, the driver goes up along with the stock so that the items can be placed on the steel shelves up to heights of 4 metres from the floor by hand. The driver wears a fall protection harness, and must load and unload the items by hand, or individual boxes, and then operates the machine to move around up and down the isles, and up and down to reach the shelves.
You must have good driving skills. You must be able to lift and work boxes that can weigh up to several hundred kilograms by hand. You must have no fear of heights. For those who start out doing The Tour, time is a huge factor becuase your window of operation to completion is strict and rigid. You must plan your route out before hand, and the safety procedures are often what can put you behind schedule as you must gate off all areas you are working in, and work also around other teams who are working on the floor as well, plus move obstructions from your path, like abandon pallets and boxes (including other machines).
I completed my first Tour tonight. I sweated like a sieve while on the machine–handling the stock, and up in the air where the heat lingers. When I jumped on the Order Picker everyone was watching me as I manoeuvred through the work areas and sections. Some helped with the gates, while others moved their items from my path, but I quickly knew that I was fast falling behind with the amount of stock that needed to go up on the steel (shelves). It was a huge task. You need to be fast, while being safe, and the physical effort is enormous, to do the job.
I narrowly finished with a little help from the second Order Picker driver who caught the last two sections for me as the day shift started entering the floor. When I undone the harness, and turned off the machine, all night shift crew members had already punched out for the day. When I got to the lunch room, one employee said, ” now you’re one of us! Welcome to the club!”