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Pointers on COVID Prevention and Recovery for Fulfillment Facilities

Pointers on COVID Prevention and Recovery for Fulfillment Facilities

The CEO|Circle was joined by Nader Kabbani VP of Amazon Flex and Last Mile Logistics to discuss best practices for COVID prevention and recovery for fulfillment facilities. Here’s a collection of those best practices: 

Whether a company is fulfilling in-house or working with third-party logistics (3 PL’s) they’re all dealing with similar challenges along with the same end goals – keeping their employees healthy and meeting their customer needs.

Define what contact is.

4 weeks ago no one knew what “contact” meant. Agencies haven’t been that helpful or even in sync. They might be now. But defining it for yourself is helpful in terms of setting the tone early on of what is and isn’t acceptable. Per one of the attendees on the call who runs a food service company, they’ve defined as follows after several meetings with different agencies: Within 6 feet for a period of 10 minutes or more. This definition seems to be working despite some early cases. 

In house.

Food companies were already one step ahead with good manufacturing practices (GMP) due to all the regulations already in place under government agencies, but even they had to make a ton of adjustments. Here are the collectives’ best practices for those on the call that manage facilities in-house:

  • Take existing GMP and go extreme on them is a pretty straightforward rule of thumb. Extra cleaning and sanitation. Face masks or shields are worn at all times within the facilities.
  • Social Distancing – Tape lines in offices. Don’t enter offices. Don’t share offices. If in the same room stay 6 ft apart. Break lunch schedules and overlapping shifts. An environment of fewer touches. “If you are in direct contact (reference definition above) with any of your management team then you are doing something wrong.”
  • Redesign floorplan (one company mentioned tents outside of the facility for breaks)
  • Work from home – all nonessential departments and roles. Even roles that are a part of nonessential but don’t have to physically be on location.
  • Aggressive Auditing of all partners
  • Technology – Heat sensing and temp checks, with a camera. Use cameras to contact trace after someone is diagnosed.
  • Mass Testing (if possible)
  • Train new hires in contact cohorts. Monitor them.

Third-Party Logistics (3 PL’s).

For those managing 3PL’s the biggest challenge is to understand in great detail what policies and procedures and actions their 3PL partners are going to take should somebody test positive, should there be an outbreak, should there be scare.

  • Develop your own contingency plan that reacts to your 3PL’s playbook and scenarios should there be a business disruption.
  • Create a health supervisor role from existing employees to go into the 3PL and check in on practices. This is for equal parts safety and peace of mind. Having the same protocols for in house and out of house are ideal.
  • Create protocols for 3PL using your priorities of shipment.
  • You don’t want to get too hands-on unless there’s lack of safety and underperformance. Showing it’s safe to work is key in terms of both your happiness as well as getting your shipments fulfilled.

Talk and Connect with people.

To no surprise, communication – with your customers, employees, and partners – is key, along with transparency and humanity.

  • SLAs – delays are happening on all sides right now. Set expectations ASAP.
  • Customer – Responses evolve over time, but now people accept that things are not usual. Tell and show them you are making an effort to get things out. Consider payment plans for your customers, due to the economic state for some. 
  • Employees – Sharing customer testimonials and executive messaging (video, email) about how important essential employees can really connect with your employees. Recognize they are taking big risks and the least we can do is testing (if possible). Instill confidence that they are being taken care of with procedures and protocols being put in place. For one company, protocol changes like heat sensing, cameras for contact tracking, and detailed shift changes were put in place which helped their employees feel more comfortable and had confidence in their team. Comp Adjustments to recognize efforts and willingness to come to work. A $2 increase in wages goes a long way in retention and attraction. Monthly bonuses and reviews daily are Amazon’s strategy.

Keeping up with demand when our fulfillment can’t.

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