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Taking Logistics to a Higher Level
by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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If you’ve ever bought something cool at the local “big box” store, purchased a last minute gift online or received mail order medication, it was probably made possible in part due to supply chain logistics. Thanks to recent advances in this area, an impressive system of near space age warehousing and distribution now drives much of the global economy.

In a modern automated warehouse today, technologically advanced robots are hard at work, efficiently selecting items from stacks and rows of countless other items. Goods are placed on conveyor belts, whisked away via high-speed internal transport systems and sent off for rapid shipping to arrive at their destinations in record time.

If you happen to possess technical expertise, leadership skills, a team-oriented mindset and the whole idea of automated warehouse processes catches your attention, then you might consider looking for your next job at Swisslog North America. They specialize in designing and creating cutting edge logistical systems, and they’re hiring.

Taking Care of Businesses
Swisslog North America finds itself in the right place, at the right time as more companies today turn to automation and systems integration in bottom-line focused efforts to more effectively manage their inventories, move their stock quickly and ensure customer satisfaction.

Headquartered in the Oakland Industrial Park in northern Newport News, Virginia, Swisslog offers consulting, design, implementation and lifetime customer support for “best-in-class” integrated systems and services for warehouses and distribution centers.

“We are in charge of complex and sophisticated systems and we keep those systems up and running by monitoring them on a 24 hour basis,” said Bill Leber, Director of Business Development.

Some of the companies that they keep things up and running for are Target, Walmart, Publix, Cargill, Baxter Healthcare and Glaxo Ontario.

A few examples of how they accomplish these technical feats include the following:
• Through Click&Pick, an adaptable modular concept used within e-commerce and omni-channel sales, they help businesses fulfill customer orders up to five times faster than doing so manually.
• With Inventory, Forklift and Tracking Systems (SmartLIFT) - think of a forklift fitted with an indoor GPS - they aid businesses in decreasing operating costs and enhancing real time inventory accountability.
• They work with food processors, retailers and distributors in streamlining their logistics with high-bay-temperature-controlled warehouses.

“Food, as you might suspect, has an expiration date. You have to keep it moving,” said Leber.

Finding the Right People for the Job
Keep it moving.
That is exactly what Swisslog North America does whether they are working with retailers, pharmaceuticals or food distributors. They keep things moving and they know if anyone can keep things on task, it is someone who has served in the military.

“The military hiring pool is attractive to us. They are attuned to our needs,” said Leber.

This is good news for service members who might be interested in working with Swisslog North America.

“Since 2011, we have doubled our workforce from 70 employees to 140 and we are looking to continue that expansion in the future,” said Leber.

“Those who are coming out of the military have the relative experience and discipline we seek in our employees. They understand that everything interacts with something. They are used to following a protocol and they know how to effectively communicate with others,” he said.

What kinds of positions are they looking to fill?
“It varies. We want to hire engineers who focus on pure coding while others focus more on automation, marrying equipment to computers to controls. We will also want to hire field service technicians who will be more concerned with fixing the hardware as needed,” said Leber.

In efforts to identify and hire the best people for the job, Swisslog North America has partnered with Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI), the nation’s largest military placement firm.

“Since June 2004, we have placed 27 candidates with Swisslog,” said JT Blum, the BMI account representative for the company.

“They hire all kinds of positions but primarily field service engineers who are the face of the company with their customers and who fix the robotics when needed,” said Blum.

“I like to say that if R2D2 (from the movie Star Wars) lost his job, he’d go to work for Swisslog,” said Blum.

What does it take to stand a chance with this cutting edge company?
“If you want to work with this division of Swisslog, you have to be unbelievably smart and know technology that people have never seen before,” said Blum.

“Technology-based leaders and engineers having nuclear and/or fire controlmen experience are usually excellent candidates,” said Blum.

Skills are certainly one piece of it, but according to Blum, there is more.

“You have to have a high level of confidence and yet still be able to show humility. It’s very possible that as a field service technician, you will have to walk into a company’s boardroom and brief their chief executive officer about the situation you’re trying to fix,” said Blum.

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