I have been working at Fedex Express for more than three months and counting now. This means that I've earned and received my complete set of FedEx uniforms, something that I've learned is a major accomplishment due to the laborious nature of work at the company. I've felt somewhat the way I felt years ago when I was a student at the Atlanta Job Corps Center when I was erroneously placed on a work-base learning assignment in the campus cafeteria though I was a Business Clerical major who'd definitively mastered the trade. After helping to chop hundreds of cabbages and helping in other capacities, I developed a great respect for those who routinely worked the job. I was eventually placed on the company switchboard* at the AJCC for work-base learning, though I never forgot the mix-up (*my very first full-time job was as a receptionist/concierge at an Atlanta residential community). Do not believe for one minute simply because of the vast number of FedEx employees you see wearing the traditional uniforms that the work is easy. These are some of the hardest working individuals on the planet, literally. I, like many others, wanted to leave my first day. I was in so much pain that I could hardly move anything but my eyes the next day, and for the first couple of months, I'm certain that I walked something like Mr. Macafee from the comedic television series "In Living Color." I definitively was not the only one. Over time I've become stronger and stronger, like any Employee who has worked for the company for any significant length of time. I've lost more than twenty pounds, not dieting. Many have left. I wanted and have been determined to stay a while to learn and experience more of the FedEx culture. I wanted to have an impact, that of articulating methods for improving the company and working conditions for employees.
FedEx, which is headquartered in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, is a humongous company. The fact that employees are driven around its campuses in shuttles and there is yet a lot of walking involved in getting to and from the varied work sites attests to this. Needless to say, the excessive walking in composite or steel-toed shoes that FedEx employees are distributed and required to wear takes a toll on employees’ feet, particularly when the noted shoes are new or when they are not broken into, and considering especially that FedEx employees must stand throughout the duration of their shifts. It is among the reasons, I’m certain, that FedEx’s turnover rate exceeds 90% (despite the company’s great benefits), which creates mega challenges for FedEx’s HR personnel, I'm certain. Mail and courier delivery is an essential service, however, and those who deliver should work smart and efficient with the least possible hardship. Changes to the FedEx campus would enable this, while improving processes, decreasing likelihood of employee injury and damage to freight and company costs for replacing damaged items and nursing injured employees.
Re-Designing the Matrix and other Elements of the FedEx Campus
Delivery of Freight Directly to Planes (and Freight Trucks) via Conveyor Belts
Freight should and can be sent directly to proper airplanes [or freight trucks, for those employed at FedEx companies that utilize freight trucks] via conveyor belts within enclosed bridges with proper central heat and air ventilation. FedEx employees would no longer be required to work in cold and inclement weather. Loading and driving cans and other freight containers to and from planes is not only excessively laborious, it is a flawed and unnecessary system. Yep, FedEx could do away with nearly all of their cans and the vehicles that tug them. They should only save a few of them in the probably unlikely event that a conveyor belt extending to a plane completely malfunctions and could not be immediately restored. Employees who screen packages coming into the planes via the noted conveyor belts would be stationed in vestibules near the planes' entrances. The noted vestibules would be grounded and each would have an elevator for carrying employees to and from their work areas and for carrying packages erroneously sent to any plane down to an awaiting cargo vehicle for delivery to its proper locality or back to the matrix for re-loading. Employees who facilitate plane loading processes would be driven to and retrieved from the planes where they’ll work via company shuttles.
Smart scanners and/or smart (sorting) conveyor belts that push packages with barcodes that are bound for like destinations down the same conveyor belts to the appropriate FedEx airplane would be the core of streamlining FedEx handling processes. A smart (sorting) FedEx conveyor belt would be similar to the one in the following video.
FedEx employees would no longer be required to walk and/or lift often significantly heavy packages several feet to a can, a repetitive motion that is likely the source of most employee injuries. The prescribed system would only require FedEx employees to load packages onto the conveyor belts, to double check packages coming down conveyor belts into the screening area of each plane to be certain that they have been sent to the proper plane, and to shift portable conveyor belts to which the packages would be routed that would gently drop and stack the packages into proper areas of each plane, in a manner similar to the conveyor belt in this video.
Perhaps in the near future FedEx and similar companies will utilize perfected/automatic plane and truck package loaders and/or stackers that are similar to the one in this video
Getting Employees to Work
Until and after FedEx and other companies have created a significantly robotic workforce, all employees will require sufficient means of getting to and from work. Rapid rail proliferation and employee ride sharing programs are ideal means for many employees and employment candidates to get to and from work.
A Federal Express Rapid Rail Stop
First and foremost, Memphis would need to acquire a rapid rail system, or incorporate a said system into MATA. A Federal Express Rapid Rail stop should be incorporated into the main screening area of the Fed Ex Express campus to facilitate employees' commute to and from work. Many employees walk a significant distance to Fed Ex. This trek is in the dark for those employees who work overnight, and in the cold for those who work during the cold or winter seasons...
Best Practices for Now
Safe and Effective Moving and Lifting Techniques
Until the prescribed changes are implemented, if they ever are, there are varied techniques that I've discovered for easily and safely moving and lifting heavy packages. These include package walking, tilt and push-up methods, and knee lifting.
Walking a package involves alternately moving each side of a package forward in alignment with one's foot steps. This technique allows for moving heavy packages that would ordinarily be very difficult to move.
Tilt and Push-up Methods
The best way to manually place heavy packages into cans is via a push-up method. This involves pushing a package into a can rather than wholly lifting and placing it there. The top half of the package is tilted over the top of the floor or bottom of the can and pushed into the can via lifting the package from its bottom.
If the package is too short and too heavy to lift by traditional means, turning and tilting it on a corner could heighten it enough to push it up into its can; if not, it is simply imperative to ask for help.
Knee lifting involves partially lifting a package to the knees and using one's knees to push the package into its can.
Addressing Employees' Feet and General Health
Rest Chairs For Package Handlers
Rest chairs could be provided for package handlers to rest during interval periods of package flow, considering especially that they are not provided breaks. Of course, a majority of the time the package handlers would be on their feet and should not miss a package that they should retrieve from the conveyor belts. There are varied intervals or spacing between some packages that would allow employees brief and sufficient time to rest their feet...
Benches for FedEx Shuttle Stops
FedEx workers should get as much feet rest as possible prior to and after their shifts. Accordingly, sheltered and unsheltered*d shuttle stops should have benches for employees to sit while waiting for shuttles.
*Un-sheltered shuttle stops should additionally have markers indicating to employees precisely where each is located. This would save time because it would encourage employees to walk to their nearest official stop in lieu of shuttle drivers retrieving employees wherever they happen to park.
FedEx Employee Weight Management Programs and other Health Initiatives
Unnecessary laborious practices at any company should not exist for the exclusive purpose of providing exercise to employees. There are more intelligible methods of improving employee health, like implementing company weight management programs, i.e. campus gyms, healthy cooking classes, and/or creating and distributing a company newsletter with employees' paychecks at least once monthly that would discuss the importance of good health and methods of accomplishing it...
Incorporating leveled parking near primary entrances would allow most if not all employees to park closely to employee entrances, saving the time that it takes to wait for shuttles, which require significant use of fuel and upkeep.
Re-drawing Margins Near the Memphis FedEx Express Entrance Near the Visitor Parking Area
Parking margins near the Memphis FedEx Express entrance that is near the visitor parking area should be re-drawn to prevent the near-collision of vehicles that are already in the parking lot, or those traveling in the outer lane of parking slots on this side of the parking lot, with incoming traffic from Democrat Road...
FedEx Campus Arenas
FedEx campuses should have arenas for all-staff meetings, routine pep talks by varied motivational speakers, and entertainment (not merely for departmental meetings).
Streamlining FedEx hand...ling processes and those of other courier delivery services would accelerate and improve productivity while saving FedEx, etc. billions of dollars each year, and while improving employee retention and job satisfaction.