Another Amazon Week in the Books…

To start – I’d like to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, friends and faithful followers! What am I thankful for this year? I’m thankful for my husband and best friend, Bill; I’m thankful for my kids, Michelle (Maeve) and Billy, and my new son-in-law, Derek; I’m thankful for the beautiful wedding we had back in October; I’m thankful for my parents and siblings; my nieces, nephews, and Godchildren; my cousins and BFF; and all my RVer family. You each are so important and special to me, you help make my life complete. And let’s not forget that I’m thankful for my kitty, Callie, who is always happy to see me, sits on my lap and purrs, and will randomly keep Bill and I entertained.

As I start this post, we have 4 out of our 5 days, of our 6th week here done. It is an odd week for us, as we have off on our usual MET (mandatory extra-time) day, and will work tomorrow instead – it’s BLACK FRIDAY already! We will then have off Saturday and our 5 day weeks will begin on Sunday. I have one word: UGH!

I really shouldn’t be so negative about it, really I shouldn’t. I’ve actually had a fairly good week, even though, as of today, there’s a cliffhanger hanging in the air.

Here’s a good picture of a pick mod:

Last week and the beginning of this week, I spent a lot of time packing singles. I do not prefer singles, for many reasons. Let me remind you: they are more boring, they hurt my shoulder and – did I mention the boring part? When doing singles, you pull a tote down off the top conveyor onto a chute, which can be heavy (and there isn’t any good way to know how heavy ahead of time – hence can hurt my shoulder), then one item at a time gets scanned and packaged and sent out on the bottom conveyor. As you can imagine, that means a lot more bags and boxes. There isn’t a whole lot of thought that has to go into singles – it’s easy and almost automatic to see one item and know what bag or box to put it into.

The picture below is a pack area – you can see each station set up with boxes. Ours at Campbellsville also have bags for clothes, and our conveyor on the top has the totes with the items, while the bottom has the already packaged items.

Conversely, when packing multi’s, you pick items out of a cart, you can clearly see them, if there is a potentially heavy item, you can ask for help or at least you know to test it first before removing it from its cubby on the cart. Then you put the items on the station area and you have to decide what to do with them. A lot of times, it is clear, but sometimes it’s a bit of a puzzle, which I enjoy. It’s “somewhat” challenging (even with the “somewhat” in front of it – I use the word “challenging” loosely.) It is like a puzzle though – as each combo of items is different and that alone makes it less boring.

Another thing about multi’s is that I think about the combo of items that are going to the same place. Sometimes it is clearly a store, because it will be 10 of the same slouchy hat; sometimes you can tell it’s a family because it will be a blue puffer jacket with matching hat and gloves, a package of women’s underwear and a package of men’s dress socks. You just never know what you will find going out together and I find it keeps my mind more engaged.

In the pic below you can see a packer adding cello/bubbles/dunnage/air pillows to an N3 box. Behind him (right side of the pic) is the roll of empty cello and the machine that blows it up and puts it into the blue tub. That machine is for the station behind him. On the left side of the pic (in front of the man) is his SPOO machine. The SPOO label gets added to each box (there is already a SPOO label on each poly mailer, jiffy mailer and “V” box) and identifies that order so further down the conveyor the labeler can add the customer info. (I remember saying it in a post 2 years ago, ordering from Amazon is anonymous – no one sees who orders what) Also in the pic, behind the man, top right of pic, you can see the station number and 3 lights (only the green one is lit.) The green one just says that station is occupied, the blue means he needs supplies, and the Red is an “andon” and makes an awful alarm sound, and means he needs immediate assistance. You can also see the tape machine, which dispenses a length of dampened tape based on which button you push, which coincides with the size box you are packing.

Then this week, I learned rebin! Yes- it’s worth an exclamation point! I could do rebin all day! Let me back up and tell you what it is.

Pickers pick totes full of stuff, some are singles (each item is a single order as described above), some are multi’s – where each of those items is part of an order with at least one other thing. (There are other types of totes being picked: trans, frac’s, and recycle, but I don’t see those at all.) So, when a tote is designated “multi” it goes to a different place so it can be combined with other multi totes and get “rebined” to become part of a multi cart. What happens is the computer tells the “tote wrangler” (it’s a sub-job within pack), which totes to dump into a large “buggie”; the person who is assigned to rebin takes a buggie into a rebin station. The station has 2 carts, one on the left, one on the right. Each cart has 5 levels top to bottom (“A” through “E” – each level also has a color) and 7 flexible spots left to right – so A1 at the top left and E7 bottom right. Picture a “U” shape, buggie in front of you and a cart on either side. Next you pick up an item, scan it and the computer tells you where to put it. It will tell you which side and what bin position. It shows which side by putting the color square on the appropriate side of the screen with the exact bin location in it. Here’s the best picture I could find on the web:

This isn’t exactly like ours but gives you an idea – ours looks similar, except in front of her she would have a large blue buggie that is about waist high and a screen at eye level. Those carts are larger than ours also. But you at least have some sort of visual now.

So, I find the rebin to be the best “job” within pack so far. It requires you to pay serious attention, to avoid putting the items in the wrong bin and/or on the wrong side. Each time I’ve been assigned to rebin this week, time has flown by – to the point of when the chime (more about that in a minute) sounded – I was caught off guard that it was break or lunch time – and that is fantastic! Sadly, they don’t let you rebin all day, just one quarter per day – but I’ll take it/volunteer any time it’s offered.

So – about the chimes mentioned above, new this week, they started a chime system to alert workers of their break, lunch and end of day times. Yes, like in High School – except instead of a buzzer, they are using a 3 second sound bite from a video game. Some sound like Mario, some like Ms PAC Man, etc. The best ones are the end of day – inbound chime is what used to be the end of Warner Bros cartoons – Porky Pig saying “That’s all Folks!” and outbound’s is from The Flintstones – Fred’s end of Day whistle and then Fred yelling “Yaba Daba Do!” They say the purpose is to be a reminder (which actually came in handy to me this week as I said above), but they really are trying to stop people from leaving early/coming back late from breaks and lunch. I don’t see it changing anything frankly, people are still leaving and returning when they always did. Inbound chimes are about a half hour before ours, so it is like a “we get to go soon!” – but that’s about it.

On to the cliffhanger I mentioned earlier – about a week ago, the managers posted which pack area everyone was being assigned to for peak (which officially starts Black Friday). So far only one pack area has been open – which is called the “Loft” and it is on the mezzanine above the pack area called the “Downs”, and there is another area called the “Studio” (formally the “Attic”) in another building. I was assigned to the Downs, which I initially thought “Fine – it doesn’t matter.” (Although there was a slight concern about my knees and being on the cement floor) Then I found out (after learning rebin) that the Downs was going to be only singles and the Loft would be multi’s and therefore, rebin. So, I asked to be switched. I mentioned that I really preferred multi’s and rebin; and also I had concerns about my knees on the concrete floor after having to switch from Picking to Pack (after going to a workers comp doc) two years ago. I was told they, Jessie and Bryan (the two outbound area managers), would discuss it and let me know. I am trying to not think too much about it today, as I’d rather enjoy my day off.

That’s all I have for today. As I’m finishing this post (which I will publish later) I’m sitting at Due Dirty Laundromat. I’m the only one here but that’s ok. I do believe this will be the first time there will be two posts in one day. Look for Bill’s post about our dash cam.

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14 thoughts on “Another Amazon Week in the Books…

  1. Hope you get the loft, Kelly…that composite floor is so much easier on your feet/legs/everything. If not, the rubber mat might still keep your knees in good shape.

    We used to rebin multiple quarters in a day…is that a new policy? The only job we couldn’t do two quarters in a row was tote wrangling, because it is so physically demanding. I detested that job.

    1. Sent you a PM. Yes – can only rebin for one quarter at a time – so could do 2 in a day, just not in a row. I didn’t volunteer for tote-wrangling.

  2. We are thankful you are here with us. And. Ice write up on packing. Much more complicated than I thought!

    1. Can be complicated but still becomes second nature pretty quickly. And – we are VERY happy you are here with us! Makes it so much more bearable!

  3. I get nostalgic at times reading Amazon posts. I sure miss the routine and people, but not the politics and ‘organization’ of it all, if you know what I mean. Here where we are in California we get a decent wage and lovely site, and beautiful weather. Can’t beat that 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing what goes on in your Amazon day. We camp in Campbellsville, we’ve actually built an RV Park there. We’ve met campers who work there over the past few years as well as knowing a few locals who work there. I’ve always wondered what the job was like.

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