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Cliff Holste

Supply Chain Digest
Material Handling Editor

Logistics News - Sorting It Out

Cliff Holste is Supply Chain Digest's Material Handling Editor. With more than 30 years experience in designing and implementing material handling and order picking systems in distribution, Holste has worked with dozens of large and smaller companies to improve distribution performance.

January 11, 2017

Sorting It Out : Training & Discipline Are Key to a Smooth Running Operation

What Level of Training Should be Provided?


Training programs are about the organization and implementation of the complex factors affecting the realization of productivity, efficiency, order accuracy, throughput goals, and workplace safety. To produce a consistent, safe, smooth running operation – training programs need to be taken seriously and performed on a regular basis.

Holste Says...

The problem is that without proper and continuous training, bad habits develop that can rob a system of its full potential.

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“Success in business requires

training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.”


D. Rockefeller

A properly structured training program will focus on training the trainers. This is necessary because new hires will have to be trained by experienced DC personnel.

The training program should be tailored to the shipper’s specific needs and then customized to the exact equipment, controls, and software systems. At a minimum the training program include the following (3) stages:

First Stage – Maintenance Hands-On Training:

In order to become familiar with the equipment and system components, as well as their function and location within the system, your maintenance staff needs firsthand knowledge of how the equipment goes together and what adjustments are required for proper operation. Your service provider needs to make sure that maintenance personnel understand the equipment manuals, troubleshooting guidelines, service schedule, and spare parts inventory.

Second Stage – Formalized Operator Training:

The purpose here is to ensure that your operators are acquainted with the critical functions and operations of the system. This training should familiarize them with all required operating and safety procedures as well as how to correct and recover from various fault conditions. It should include an overview of system operation, component identification, control functionality, as well as concentration on system diagnostics and managerial statistics and how to interpret them.

Note: Upon successfully completing this formal training stage it’s a good practice to issue a Certificate of Completion to each participant. This serves to show the importance that management places on training.

Third Stage – System Audit and Refresher:

Once a year, about three months ahead of the peak season, your service provider should perform a mechanical and controls audit to determine actual system performance criteria and to perform any required follow-up training and/or re-training.

Most service providers offer a library of videos (via the Internet) that provide step-by-step troubleshooting and routine maintenance instructions. Maintenance personal, equipped with laptops, can access the videos while onsite at the location of the trouble. Also, inquire about live video conferences which can be a valuable timesaver in solving system issues during the peak season.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, most shippers invest very little time and effort in formal training. It’s a kind of learn-as-you-go method. The problem is that without proper and continuous training, bad habits develop that can rob a system of its full potential. Once incorrect methods are adopted, they become SOP and very hard to correct. That’s why professional sports teams begin each new season teaching the fundamentals.

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