Wednesday, December 14, 2011

So Far so Good

The past 2 days have been great but tiring. On the first day we toured the warehouse, seeing tasks never seen before like loading 60 foot agricultural tires in a flatbed truck, expertly put into place by an ace with a forklift, reminding one of flipping pancakes; afterwards setting up computers and printers, checking cables in the back of tables, under the furniture and delving in the spaghetti like mess in the computer room; finally all the equipment was ready and a test successful y conducted to prepare for the next day’s go live. Lunch was pepperoni pizza and diet coke; the team deciding to stay in the office instead of going out to lunch, finding a glitch in the software and alerting the suppliers; all other test looking good and the supplier promising to have the glitch fixed by tomorrow.  We left late from the warehouse, completing emails and performing the final preparation, fixing the tables in an orderly manner and telling the local staff that we will be in the office early the next day in time for the go live, excited again to be in the eve of another warehouse roll-out.

We had dinner at a ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant called ‘Dusties’ which featured a buffet of pork knuckles cooked in oil, chicken in various forms;  fried,  spicy chicken and pork, sausage and sauerkraut, rice and beans, slices of pepper, olives,  onions and Heineken beer.  It was not a great dinner but we were tired, an interesting restaurant nevertheless with booths and tables, pictures of old artists in walls paneled with wood, mostly African American singers of the 60’s to 70’s, tunes of Rhythm and Blues wafting in place; pork knuckles is a rare treat after all, a dish available in Asia but rare in America, plunging into a second serving but giving up when feeling dizzy, a condition that arises when one eats too much fat.  We went back to Hampton Inn; I had tea, drank vitamins and some medication, went to Sports authority with a colleague so he could buy gym clothes, got back to the Inn, exercised for 40 minutes, alternating the routine with the cross-trainer and the stationary bike, the food digesting with the physical effort, back to the room, taking a shower and trying to write but falling asleep by 11pm.

Woke early the next day, read yesterday’s paper, tried to write but no time, ate breakfast of hardboiled egg, ham, potatoes and scrambled eggs, yogurt, orange juice, chocolate and green tea.  The morning at the office went well, software working great, met remotely with the suppliers and team leader, reported an issue again, lunch of chicken tenders; warehouse staff happy with the way it works, continue to set up the laser printer, the day ending, wrote emails and make phone calls, performing the day end procedure, everything looks good except the reports don’t print. Going home early, having dinner at an elegant restaurant called ‘Barneys’, entree of rack of lamb with mint sauce, rice pilaf and Heineken beer, back at the Inn by 7:30 pm, working out at the gym an hour later for 40 minutes, chatting with colleague about work and office challenges, so far so good in Chicago, some remaining issues, hoping the supplier fixes the issue by tomorrow would make the perfect roll-out. Still a major feature will be used tomorrow that will determine if the exercise is a success.  So far the windy city has been kind to the team and luck likely will continue.

We spent some time in the warehouse floor the past 2 days, learning about automatic light switches to save energy, pallets and other packing debris cleared from the floor; good housekeeping to increase the space for product, different ways to load into trucks, inspecting the computers and printers on the floor, planning to de-commission several equipment once we’re done, learning about the operations in the past 2 days than in a career in Logistics, glad that one is working with professionals, experts who know their stuff and done a lot of projects, sharing stories during dinner, of the ways the product is stolen, about the mischief done in the warehouse and the trucking companies, talking about the latest technology, scanning barcodes and using radio frequency identification or RFID, about stolen goods hidden in the truck driver’s cab, about accidents in forklifts, about the warehouse being staffed with crazy people who take drugs and drink a lot, about outsourcing and the loss of good people to third party logistics providers, companies willing to take these people (some are crazy) after being outsourced, cutting costs and freezing wages, talking about changes in the industry and how one adapts and make everything work out right, being in the midst of another change and glad to have participated in some way, a voyage of many countries and warehouses that one realizes that he is an expert, too.    

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