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WERC Fed Ex tour – a Learning Opportunity

By Herb Shields | 01/24/2012 | 1:46 PM

 The Warehouse Education and Research Council (WERC) arranged a tour of the Fed Ex hub facility in Chicago on January 18th for its members and interested parties.  I thought that the tour would be informative for some of the students from the Industrial Technology and Management program at the Illinois Institute of Technology where I am adjunct faculty.  The Chicago Hub is one of 500 facilities in the FedEx Ground network.  Bill Burgoon, Senior Manager, led about 30 people, including four INTM students, on the tour.

Here are some of the students’ reactions and observations:

"The visit to the Chicago Hub of FedEx Ground was a great opportunity to directly observe a huge facility with the ultimate technology, like scan tunnels which capture bar codes labels information for accurate sortation. It's very interesting to attend to visits like this and see what's in the industry related to what we are studying.”  Fernando Gimenez Garcia

 “I am a shopper…many times of my orders are shipped by FedEx, but I didn't know how were they shipped. I know only, if it was shipped by FedEx, it would come very fast. Today was a good chance for me to see how it works. I was impressed when I saw one box was opened, the people didn't let it go through to shipping, they stopped the conveyor to take it for repair. Thus I can make sure that all of my orders which are shipped by FedEx will not only be shipped quickly, can be tracked, and will be safe.”  Sukanya Meebangkoed

 “Visiting the Chicago Hub of FedEx has been a great experience. With its almost 400,000 square feet, and with more than 890 employees working in it, this facility processes about 30,000 packages per hour. This fact it is not surprising if we consider the amazing technology which the facilities are provided, such as the use of bar codes and the devices that workers use to scan them; the use of scan tunnels that scan the six sides of the package and the sortation of…packages to the loading area, all of these based on the bar code label information. All of these let me think about how amazing and fast the technology evolution is being, and the need of investing in new and innovative technology, like FedEx does. Therefore, building a company upon innovation, where the pursuit and development of new technologies are an integral part of the company culture and business strategy, is crucial in my opinion. FedEx has achieved it, thus it is considered as one of the most admired companies in the world.”  Teresa Martinez Silva

One of the challenges in teaching topics related to supply chain processes is that it is hard to describe with words, diagrams, or even videos, the scale of many of the facilities that are critical to the timely movement of goods on a global basis. Our thanks to WERC and FedEX for providing an opportunity for students to see a great example of a real world supply chain company in action. 

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About Herb Shields

Herb Shields

Herb Shields has run Chicago-based HCS Consulting since 2000, helping clients across multiple industries and in higher education improve their supply chain strategy and execution. Shields has more than 30 years as an operations executive for capital equipment, automotive, electrical machinery and consumer products companies. As vice president of materials management at consumer goods company Helene Curtis, Shields led the supply chain organization that helped Helene Curtis win "Vendor of the Year" awards from Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Shields has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University and did graduate work in business at Bowling Green State University.


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