Friday, January 31, 2014

Satnav or Satan? A day at Asda and visiting Chuck!!

Its still cold and raining!! We had about 5 minutes of snow sometime last week and then it melted and turned back into cold wind and rain. Ho hum, what can you do.

Anyway, back to real life and me and Buffy enjoyed a great weekend last week. One of my oldest mates Adrian 'Chuck', Berry invited us down to his place in Culcheth, just 14 miles or so down the road. We had a great night with a huge curry and a few drinks in the legion bar. Even better was the fact that we took about £20 out of the quiz machine which paid for our drinks for the night!
The next morning we sat chatting over a massive home cooked breakfast and stayed till mid afternoon regaling tales about when me and Chuck shared a house and what happened with poisoning people, drinking in shady nightclubs and fridges in bathrooms - good times and a really good night and day at Chucks place. We will be catching up with him again soon - cheers mate!

While I'm on the subject - I will remind everyone who knows me that if you are in UK, get in touch and we will endeavour to come and visit you for a night out sometime! We already have a couple of replies and will be arranging things soon!

Back to reality and I have been working overtime for the last few weeks - Its daft to sit around the house when I can be on the road earning some extra cash and keeping out of Buffy's hair! I do keep getting asked by people about work and what happens on a normal day - so I thought it would be interesting to fill you all in on what I do and how I do it!

The first thing that happens, after arriving at work, is to check the van - a normal inspection of tyres, lights, indicators and general wear and tear of the vehicle so as to make sure it doesn't break down while I am out doing deliveries.

Once that's done I generally help to load the van with the totes - a tote is a plastic box that contains the shopping and the van can hold 105 of the little bugars in 3 different places.
1. The ambient part holds up to 60 totes behind a roller door with no temperature control.
2. The frozen part holds up to 15 blue totes at between -12 and -20 degrees Celsius
3. The chilled part holds up to 30 totes at around 0-4 degrees Celsius


The van with 'ambient' roller door, one frozen compartment and two chilled compartments.

The ambient totes - loaded with food at the bottom and empty ones in 'threes' at the top

The small blue frozen totes in the freezer.

One of the chilled compartments complete with pole to reach the totes at the back!

  Each tote is individually numbered and has a barcode. This barcode can be read with the small handheld gadget that we take with us 'The palm'. The palm is loaded with the delivery details and tote numbers of all the deliveries and is used to scan each tote as it is loaded onto and taken from the van. As long as the correct shopping is in the tote, this makes is quite hard to make mistakes! As an added bit of information - each tote has a temporary sticker attached showing the tote number, the customer number and the load number (Each van is assigned a load number each day)

Load number 5, tote number 996860 and customer number 7553 - all on the tote.

Once all the totes are loaded and confirmed by the computer system, the manager whoever it is on the day, can print off the customer delivery sheets and the two other important pieces of paperwork that are required. The first of these is the delivery manifest - this is in case there is ever any problems with the palm - It contains all the customer details and which totes belong to which customer - very useful if mistakes are made. Obviously this is only printed once every tote is accounted for and loaded onto the van.
Delivery manifest with customer details hidden
 The second and sheet of paper is the list that shows which order to deliver in and what time you be with each customer. You can see in the photo below is is very detailed and the times are by the minute, including how much 'door step time', you should spend with each customer. You can see that I only have about 6 and a half minutes on average to find an address, knock on the door, pass the customer their deliver note containing their shopping list and then unload all the totes from their various places on the van. Then the customer checks and unpacks their shopping. I then load the empty totes back onto the van (after removing the labels, ready for the next time the totes are used) get back into the van and set the satnav for the next customer location. (Incidentally and not completely related - the spell check on this blog doesnt like SATNAV - It wants me to replace it with SATAN!)  Its a lot to do in 6 minutes, especially when the customers can be really slow to answer the door and can also 'reject' items, so that I have to do an electronic refund on the doorstep using the palm. It can be quite tight staying on time!

The customer list with timings!
 The last and most important thing to do before leaving on a run, is to download the details onto the palm - this tells me which customer has which totes and is also where the customer signs for their shopping. The palm is also used to perform refunds if the customer isn't happy wit any part of their shopping. Its a useful bit of kit and really annoying when the battery goes flat or you leave it sitting on a customers wall by accident (I have never done that yet - not yet!)
The palm - with customers postcodes and delivery slots


Each time I tap on a new customer I have to register the temperature of the fridge and freezer - health and safety!
Once the van is loaded and all the paperwork is done, including counting and confirming the number of totes - it is time to leave the pod and get on the road. I usually try to get to work early and leave about 20 minutes early on my run - this means I have time to wait for customers or get stuck in traffic without having to be late for anyone.

There are a few things that we also take with us  - trolley to pile totes onto when we cant park close to the customers door or when they live in a block of flats.
We also have a display in the van that shows the temperatures of the freezer and fridge. These have t be within certain temperatures as if the food is allowed to defrost or warm up it is against health and safety.That's why I have to register the temperatures before each delivery  
The temperature readout.

The trolley strapped onto the passenger seat.
 We also carry a little box which has a petrol card so that we can fill the van up when required, a mobile phone complete with camera for taking photos of any accidents and keeping in contact with the store. There are also spare charged batteries for the palm, a remote for the entrance gates at the store and paperwork to put through a customer door if they are not in when we arrive.
 There is of course a satnav too - Even if you know your way around its still essential nowadays.

The Satnav.
That's everything we take with us from the store - I also take my small backpack with my sandwiches, a bottle of pop and a big coat to wear if it gets too cold - which at the moment it is!

Once we get on the road it is up to us how we do stuff. I generally take a good look at the delivery note before I leave so that I know if I am due early or close to being late at any customers. I also change the order sometimes if I am passing a house that I need to return to later or if I have been to a house before that know the customer is able to take an early delivery.

After that its all about arriving on time, getting the shopping out as quickly as possible, getting a signature and getting off to the next one. Sometimes the customers are right next door to each other and other times its a 20 minute drive into the countryside. Yesterday for example I drove right out to Marple Bridge and to a farmhouse at the end of a tiny country lane. The satnav also took me down a track that when I reached the end had a sign stating 'Not suitable for motor vehicles', ooops! Its a bloody big van to take down those kind of places, but that makes it more fun!

There is also a certain little humpbacked bridge that I drive over all the time, so that I can avoid going under another bridge that the van just wont fit underneath!

Underneath....

and on top of the little humped bridge.
Once out on the road it is a lot of dun - I like driving and so love that part of it - but there are also a lot of nice customers as well as some great views from the countryside overlooking Manchester.

Manchester from Werneth Low Road.

Great views.
So once all the deliveries are complete, we head back to the store - filling up with fuel if required. The final job is to unload the totes and put them back onto trolleys ready to be filled up again the next day. The finalised information is uploaded back onto the computer system in the office and the paperwork is completed - a de-brief sheet about any incidents or refunds as well as a refund sheet listing anything that I brought back. Anything that I brought back is returned, by me, to the shelf in the store. Then its a quick swipe of the Asda card to end mu shift and I can get off home! A good job well done!

So there you are - that's what goes into your shopping - so if you ever get a tesco man, asda bloke or even a Waitrose woman delivering your shopping - don't give the driver any hassle - we are doing our best in wind rain and cold, just so you can be a lazy arse and get your shopping without having to get dressed!!

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