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Automation Creates Demand for More Tech-Savvy Shipping and Receiving Clerks

Jun 2, 2008
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, shipping, receiving and traffic clerks familiar with computers and other electronic and business equipment will find more ready employment due to an increase in the automation of the system. Depending on the size of the establishment for which they work, shipping, receiving and traffic clerks typically could handle a wide range of responsibilities through the use of computers, scanners, and other electronic equipment. For smaller companies, clerks are responsible for maintaining records, preparing shipments, package sorting, and accepting deliveries. In both environments, shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks should expect to lift cartons of various sizes and employ the use of a box cutter.

Shipping Clerk Responsibilities
In preparing shipments of outgoing mail, shipping clerks must ensure orders have been filled correctly, as well as filling out shipping documents and mailing labels. They also record items taken from inventory and note when orders were filled. In smaller operations, a shipping clerk may fill the order themselves: taking merchandise from the stockroom, noting when inventories run low, and packing the goods in shipping containers. In addition, shipping clerks prepare invoices and furnish information about shipments to other parts of the company, such as an accounting department. Once a shipment is ready to go, a clerk may sort and move goods from the warehouse to the shipping dock or truck terminal and direct their loading.

Receiving Clerk Responsibilities
Similar to that of a shipping clerk, receiving clerks also determine whether orders have been filled correctly by verifying incoming shipments against the original order and accompanying bill of lading or invoice. Upon receipt, a record of the shipment and the condition of its content is recorded. Many of today's receiving clerks use hand-held scanners to record barcodes on incoming products or enter the information manually into a computer. At larger, more automated companies, receiving clerks use radio-frequency identification (RFID) scanners, which store and remotely retrieve data using tags or transponders. Clerks can then check the order for discrepancies in quantity, price and discounts. If merchandise is lost or damaged, clerks may also arrange for adjustments with shippers. Clerks at larger companies may even control all receiving platform operations, including scheduling of trucks, recording shipments, and handling damaged goods.

Traffic Clerk Responsibilities
Traffic clerks oversee and maintain the records on the destination, weight, and charges on all incoming and outgoing freight. Using a rate chart, they may verify rate charges by comparing the classification of materials, or this task may be automated in larger companies. Information can be scanned or entered manually into a computer for use by the accounting department. Traffic clerks also keep a file of claims for overcharges and for damage to goods in transit.

The Future of Shipping and Receiving
In recent years, methods of handling materials in shipping and receiving have changed significantly. The adoption of equipment such as automatic sorting systems, robots, computer-directed trucks, and programmed data storage and retrieval systems has created largely automated operations. This automation, coupled with the use of hand-held barcode and RFID scanners has increased the productivity of shipping, receiving and traffic clerks.

Training is usually done informally, on site. However, as these occupations become more automated, employees may need longer periods of training to master the use of the equipment and technology. This increase in automation is leading employers to hire those already familiar with computers and other electronic equipment.

In addition to physical challenges required by frequent standing, bending and stretching, clerks may also experience Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), a musculoskeletal disorder that results from overtaxing certain muscle groups by tensing them for excessive time periods, due to overuse or poor posture. The use of wrong tools may also lead to muscle strain and overuse. Professionally designed box cutters can minimize the overuse of arm and shoulder muscles. They also increase efficiency and save time, as well as ensuring the safety of workers and protection of goods.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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