I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.
By: joealaska , 6:10 AM GMT on September 11, 2012
As I told you earlier. Labor Day we were laboring. This past weekend was a new superlative. And it came out of nowhere.
We had only three containers of food, and one container of freight. Friendly enough.
And the days between last weekend and this weekend were indicative of a slowdown.
The first flag was the boat was late, very late. It started unloading at 4 PM instead of 7 AM. Normally our first container gets to us about 2.5 hours after the start. But at 6 PM the union for the crane operators goes to dinner for an hour. No matter what is happening.
We were busy enough Friday, delivering freight and filling a few last minute orders, including one fat order of about 30 pallets.
But we REALLY needed that food off the container vessel. Two weeks prior we had a feeding frenzy from the Shell vessels just before they headed north. It included the single largest order I have seen in my 4.5 years here. So the warehouse was cleaned out, and I ordered the largest replenishment order ever for me. 20% more than the record up until then. This monster order was arriving NOW. MOST of the pallets arriving were for our warehouse, not all the other customers.
We already knew we were going to be busy early in the day Friday. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) had popped in the day before wanting to see our records for training ourselves during the last few years. Turns out there were annual requirements of which we were not aware. We are agents of a freight company, pretty much doing what they tell us to do. Not good.
So just as the phone began ringing about orders needed in the next few hours, the TSA came back to see what we were doing to correct it all. The phone was ringing off the hook when they were back for a second visit in 24 hours.
But they were pretty cool, saying that this was the first time they have come to Dutch in the lat five years, so they were PART of the issue with no enforcement. We all agreed to get it fixed, and they were OUTTA here.
Now boats were calling about the food that was coming in, still unloaded. One wanted delivery at 8 AM. A big boat and big order. Another big boat asked for 7 AM. The Coast Guard was in and wanted 9 AM. We were getting an order in that needed to be examined and checked in, to be delivered at 6 AM. Another BIG boat called and wanted their order delivered Sat afternoon.
Mid afternoon Friday we got more calls. Shell. One of their tugs going back and forth, north and south, taking supplies to the vessels on site up north, was coming in. Evidently this was a big surprise to all involved, as we were suddenly presented with four orders to be filled by 8 AM. A couple of them were big orders. The phone kept ringing late afternoon Friday for early Sat deliveries. All to catch that same northbound boat at 8 AM.
To fill these orders we needed to unload our three vans. Which we were still waiting for. And we needed to break apart the pallets and put the product away, so we could PULL the product for those orders.
We had TWENTY FIVE pallets of frozen product alone to unload. These are pallets 6-8 feet tall. Find the shrimp! Find the hash browns! It takes HOURS to put this stuff away.
At 6 PM I sent everyone home for a break, until I knew a container was pulling up.
We had worked a hard typical day, and it was just beginning. Around 8:30 PM we were called back. The containers were all coming in.
Thank God the Shell orders were put off a few hours. So we all worked until past midnight, then went home. One of our guys who came in late stayed all night, filling orders and putting away stock. I left at 12:30AM after a 16 hour day, came back at 8:30 AM, and he was still cranking.
He gave us a head start, and we all kicked ass. Three guys worked until almost midnight, and they were back at 5 AM. Awesome effort. New Guys, great guys.
After a LONG day Friday, we returned to Saturday where everything was needed right away.
Thank God Saturday was a beautiful day, which made it all (a BIT) easier.
SUNDAY, it was all done. A quiet day, except I have to order the entire replenishment order for the warehouse. WHILE we are pulling large orders at the same time. WHILE some product just arrived is not put away yet. Order what?
Now it is Monday, and suddenly there is a calm.
I will never forget 911.
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