I am the senior planner in the inventory operations department of the distribution division. I'm responsible for the systems that support our department: inventory planning system, inventory control system, forecasting system, and requirements system. I'm responsible for developing any new systems and setting up any long-range planning systems. Also I'm responsible for the planning group, which consists of several people who actually plan each day's shipments to our distribution centers.
I have the responsibility for determining the distribution network. This entails a number of large-scale logistics studies such as where we should have our warehouses in relationship to our manufacturing plants. We do a lot of studies with the forty or fifty divisions that request our services. I'm also responsible for inventory control functions in our warehouses from the technical end. Distribution planning is a staff function within distribution. I work in the statistical end of the business on large-scale logistics studies and transportation analyses. I also work with the divisions in inventory control.
I am assigned not only to cost saving projects. My responsibilities include anything that would affect the distribution area. It's really a problem-solving position, because I'm familiar with what goes on in the distribution centers. When there are problems that are brought up by our distribution center managers, I am generally the one to help find the cause and eliminate it. There is a great amount of independence in my job.
We currently use pallets in all our operations. We feel we could save a considerable amount of money and time in converting to slip sheets in our plants and distribution centers. This is something we hope to determine in 1982, and I will play a large part in analyzing the conversion.
The division inventory target level is based on a relationship between the customer service and what inventory has been. We track the actual performance and project what it should be. That is an ongoing responsibility. I'm responsible for examining customer shipping patterns. We have a very complex manufacturing and marketing arrangement. I am responsible for coordination of the planning group, inventory management, and sales forecasting group.
I do some short-term project work, such as answering questions, such as "What does it cost to ship a case or to deliver a case to a customer in a certain city from a certain mill," "What happens with deregulation," and "What are the effects of deregulation on LTL shipments?" Those types of projects have a very short fuse.
I look for cost savings projects. We're currently going through a consolidation of distribution centers. Up until December we had a total of ten centers. We have six right now with some smaller satellite operations. With the consolidations that we are making we will be able to take advantage of assembly and distribution operations with our carriers on shipments going out of the distribution centers. We feel that we can cut our costs 10 percent.
Question - How much time do you spend at your job?
Answer - I probably put in fifty to fifty-five hours a week.
I am here at 8:00 in the morning and I usually leave at 5:30. The first week of the month I take work home with me to get the reports out on time.
Question - Who else do you work with in your organization?
Answer - First and foremost I work on a minute-to-minute basis with warehouse operations. I work very closely with the systems people, inventory control, and the field operations group. This year one of my goals is to integrate the international group into a worldwide organization. We are a worldwide organization on paper, and I would like to see it happen in practice.
In my department are two people-a coordinator and a trainer. One is responsible for the consumer sales programs, and the other is responsible for industrial sales programs. They interface between marketing and all of the folks here-credit, billing, finance, systems, and field operations-to ensure that everything is in place to carry off a sales program at the appropriate time.
Within the warehouse end of distribution, I work with transportation, cost accounting, and distribution operations people. I also work with the operations people who manage the order-entry credit functions in the major warehouses. I work quite extensively outside of physical distribution with all aspects of manufacturing. I work with sales and marketing of the different divisions and also with other staff organizations. I also work very closely with our information and data processing organization.
Physical distribution is working through other people. I have to work with them to get these things accomplished. That's why I say the distribution planning function is a staff function. You have no real operating authority. This causes problems, most of which are political problems. The real technical problems are not that difficult.
Question - How much stress is there?
Answer - At times it can be extremely stressful. There are real peaks in stress. You can go a long time, and then there's some peak demand, a peak stressful situation. A lot of times those are related to trying to get agreement out of various management groups. Trying to get agreement of these people can be very stressful at times. If I were in an operational environment, there would be seasonal peaks. Being in a staff environment, I create my own peaks of stress.
If you're in a staff job, chances are that you're going to deal with a lot of very high-level people. It's just the nature of staff jobs. It provides support for those people, and so perhaps one could consider that part of the job somewhat stressful.