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MMHEN Business Liaison News and Updates

Unload, Sort and Reload: An Inside Look at a UPS Warehouse

Kathi Santora - Monday, August 18, 2014

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a UPS warehouse looks like? Packages on conveyor belts traveling in all different directions; tractor trailer trucks being unloaded while hundreds of brown UPS box trucks are simultaneously being loaded. Well, if that’s your impression, you are not that all far off. 

Bright and early last Thursday morning and just in time to catch the end of the morning shift, Mark Brien, the UPS Human Resources for the Chesapeake District was kind enough to give a small contingent of mental health providers a firsthand look of what goes on inside a UPS warehouse. The location was the UPS Baltimore HUB facility located on Vero Road in Southwest Baltimore.

Participating in the tour were Craig Dolan from the Maryland Mental Health Employment Network, Keirstyn La Rue from Mosaic Community Services, Emily Hoffman from On Our Own and Nicole Petersen from Community Behavioral Services.

This particular facility employs approximately 1,000 employees and operates 24/7. Sorting crews work shifts that vary and range from 11:00am to 3:00pm, 5:30am to 9:00am, and 11:00pm to 3:00am. Pre-load crews work from 4:00am to 8:30am. All of the sorting and loading positions are fast paced and require attentiveness due to the high volume of packages processed. The work environment entails standing for extended periods of time as well as bending, stooping and lifting. The warehouse building itself has limited climate control and heat conditions in the summer requires employees to hydrate both before and during working hours.

A massive conveyor system transports packages from the unloading truck docks to their respective local box truck destination aided by electronic bar code labels attached to the packages.

While many of the positions are part-time, 17 ½ -20 hours per week, the duration lasts the entire year. Part-time employees usually work 3 ½ - 4 hours each weekday (Monday through Friday) and typically do not work on weekends or selected holidays.  Box truck driver positions do not require a CDL license, but they do require a clean driving record. 

UPS.com is the website where job vacancy notices are found and where applications are filed. After a candidate files an application, he/she also schedules himself/herself for an information session where the candidate is given a full description of the job as well as a walk- through of the facility. Based on certain application information provided by the applicant, the online application system screens out applicants. There are no personality or behavioral assessment tests in the application process. On average there is a 30% turnover rate for new hires.

To UPS, a job candidate with a disability doesn’t matter, as long as they are qualified and can do the job. Mark Brien was very forthright during a Q&A session at the conclusion of the tour and offered to answer any future questions that may arise regarding UPS and its hiring procedures. 

The takeaway from this tour was not only a first -hand understanding of the operation of a major shipping warehouse, but also a valuable business resource and contact in this industry.