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 via conveyor belts* within enclosed bridges with proper central heat and air ventilation (*Portable conveyor belts should additionally be utilized in all freight trucks to facilitate the loading of freight). 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 all of their cans and all of the tugs that move them. They should preserve a few cargo vans, however, 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.
FedEx employees would no longer be required to work in cold and inclement weather or 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.
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.
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
Another and Perhaps Better System
Another and perhaps better system of streamlining FedEx processes would be to transport filled freight cans from the matrix into airplanes via sturdy and movable side arms on conveyor belt tables. The noted side arms would initially deliver attached plane cans* to package hand...lers in their designated work areas, noting that the middle area of the conveyor belts would transport freight to be canned. *Once a plane can reaches the locality of its designated package hand...ler, it would lock into place. If it is a square can, it would be lowered to the floor for loading with the opening facing upward while yet attached to each side of the conveyor belt tables. If the can has a curvature, it would be lowered into a cradle of like shape and size with a stand that rests on the floor. Freight would be automatically pushed into its respective can via smart scanning technology. Larger cans should have a side or top door for hand...lers to enter the cans while they are on the floor in an upward-facing position and properly shift and stack packages.
The package hand...lers would only maneuver the freight until it is appropriately positioned in each can; they would no more have to lift and carry packages to the cans. Once a can is filled to capacity, the package hand...lers would press a button that would re-lift it onto the previously noted movable side areas on the table of each conveyor belt. The conveyor belts would deliver the filled cans in the order in which they should be loaded to the side door of each plane into which the cans are traditionally lifted. At this point the cans would clamp onto a rail that would move them to their respective slots on their designated planes. This system would additionally enable discontinuance of tug driving. This too would mean that employees would not be exposed to the elements-inclement or extreme cold or hot temperatures-because all FedEx processes would be indoor in a properly heated and air-conditioned environment.
The areas of the matrix that are traditionally opened to allow for the driving of tugs would be permanently closed because there would be no need for tugs, since the cans that are loaded into the planes would be delivered directly to them via conveyor belts.
A Few More Lavatories Please...
FedEx provides plenty of liquids to its employees to prevent dehydration during the routinely rigorous work days and nights; accordingly, lavatories should be readily available for these workers to utilize when they need to. They should not have to wait significant lengths of time to relieve themselves and/or walk significant distances to use the restroom, which is precisely what many FedEx employees must do... Every employee should have a restroom within a reasonable distance of their work area. This requires installation of additional traditional and/or portable toilets and stalls where essential.
Solidifying of Matrix Ceilings/Roofs...
On any random occasion, freight can be and is periodically ejected from conveyor belts during twists and turns; when this occurs, employees and others on lower level floors are at risk of being hit by the falling freight because a vast percentage of what should be a solidified floor/ceiling is a net-like material that is torn in various spots, and has been purposely torn in many instances to free trapped packages...
A solidified ceiling/roof would enable walking over these particular areas to retrieve any ejected packages. Heightening the sidewalls of conveyor belts would help to prevent freight ejection, though the solidifying of matrix ceilings/roofs would offer definitive protection.
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
Installation of Industrial Plastic Strip Curtains
Industrial plastic strip curtains should be installed at every point where tugs and cans enter and exit the matrix and other work areas on the FedEx campus, noting that the curtains needn't be installed at internal entrances and exits. These curtains are drive-through and help to regulate temperatures and save energy costs. They must be routinely and properly cleaned to maintain visibility, however. For added security, cameras/big screen monitors juxtapose lights for use during night shifts could be placed above the subject entrances and exits to further magnify persons and/or objects to others on each side of the noted curtains. Additionally, arrows could be drawn on the floor or ground near the curtains reminding drivers to drive on the proper side of entrances and exits, and "No Pedestrian" signs and those advising drivers to proceed slowly and cautiously through the noted curtains should be mounted.
Utilization of Hydraulic Table Carts
Hydraulic table carts should be utilized by individual employees to manually remove significantly heavy packages from conveyor belts and transport them to cans. They should additionally be utilized when necessary to further move freight within an airplane or freight truck.
Traditional safe lifting techniques should be revisited, particularly where routinely lifting multiple lofty packages is concerned. Team lifting every heavy package is not always practical in a high volume freight work environment where everyone has their own work to do. Routinely lifting with leg muscles or knees, other than in a manner that I'll here prescribe, can cause serious injury and/or exacerbate existent injuries...
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, rolling, 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.
Package Sliding and Rolling...
Package sliding is literally sliding a package and package rolling is literally rolling... a package to a can after removal from a conveyor belt (package rolling is, of course, only applicable to non-fragile packages).
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.
It is practical to safely lift even excessively heavy packages via extensive tilting, or pulling a package as closely away from a can as possible and tilting and pushing it into the can. If a 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* shuttle stops should have benches for employees to sit while waiting for shuttles.
*Unsheltered 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 employees should really be required to swipe their employee badges or, more preferably, to scan a finger to get into the employee parking lot. This would make it impossible for any unauthorized persons to enter the FedEx employee parking lot.
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 in costs for fuel and upkeep of tugs, in replacing damaged freight, and in nursing and/or replacing injured employees.