Sunday, December 2, 2012

Amazon’s Different this Year

At least it’s different here in Kentucky this year.  Every year we have come here, we have almost from the start worked at least 40 hours a week and we started on 50 hours almost before Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  We have been here since August 27th and our last pay period was 77 hrs. That was the most we’ve had!  When we first got here they would give VTO (voluntary time off) and we would take it because we thought that work would pick up.  Then we started saying no to VTO. That’s when they offered to teach us how to stow. (In Amazon speak, this means to put the product away in the bins, where it will stay until someone orders it) We worked 40 hours learning how to stow.  For a couple of weeks, we would receive in the morning and then go to stowing in the afternoon.  Then the beginning of November they came to us and told us we would not be in receiving or stowing anymore.  For a week and a half, we worked with the project team (pretty much minor construction) and then we went to ICQA (inventory and quality control).  This is our home department now.

Within the ICQA department there are many jobs.  First step is a simple bin count.  You go along with a scanner and scan the bin and count the number of items in that bin.  If your count matches the systems everything is good.  If it doesn’t, that triggers a second simple bin count by someone else.  If that is still wrong, the next step is called a “cycle count”.  This means that someone goes to the bins that don’t match the system and physically remove everything and with the scanner, scans each item as it is put back  into the bin.  At this point, if it does not match the system and second person comes to do another cycle count. At this point the systems corrects itself to match the last cycle count.  It’s very important to Amazon that these bins are correct.  When you place your orders with Amazon, almost immediately, a picker (Amazon speak for a person who goes to a bin to pick your item and sends it to packing) is sent to a bin where that item is supposed to be.  A lot of man hours go into keeping these bins straight. 

Now here’s another twist.  At the end of each row of bins, there is an empty bin marked in red.  These are amnesty bins.  If an item falls out of a bin onto the floor, we do not put it in a bin we think it came from.  It goes into the amnesty bin.  My job now is to clear out these amnesty bins and return the items to there original bin.  I do a lot of walking.  Maybe I should get one of those pedometer so I can tell how far I walk.  Do I get extra steps for going up stairs?   Sometimes 4 flights!!

Such is our life at Amazon this year.  A lot different from previous years and hopefully this will be our last! 
Merry Christmas everyone!  Place those orders!