Distribution Logistics Fundamentals is the first in a series of six stackable e-learning courses that culminate in a new Distribution Logistics Leader Micro-Credential and Certification.
BY MICHAEL MIKITKA, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF MHI’S KNOWLEDGE VALUE CENTER AND WERC
Offering educational resources that deliver the critical knowledge warehouse, distribution and fulfillment professionals need to excel in their careers is at the heart of the Warehousing Education and Research Council’s mission. I’m therefore delighted to introduce the newest program from WERC, a division of MHI: the Distribution Logistics Leader Micro-Credential and Certification. It is comprised of six stackable, self-paced e-learning courses, the first of which—Distribution Logistics Fundamentals—debuted in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The program is the culmination of three years of work and contributions from WERC leaders and members. Our purpose was to respond to a recognized need to help those who are new to the industry learn about its key processes, technologies, roles and career opportunities.
“Companies are always looking for ways to improve employee retention. We know—based on recent surveys of hourly associates—that one of the best ways to improve employee retention is to invest in training and provide associates with the opportunity to advance in their careers,” noted Brian Devine, president and CEO of Ignite Industrial Professionals, who also serves as a director at large on the WERC Advisory Council.
“Distribution Logistics Fundamentals is the perfect foundational course for people starting out in the logistics industry,” continued Devine. “It covers all of the basics in very digestible sessions, and the digital format allows employees to complete the courses whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for them.”
As a micro-credentialing program, the curriculum includes short, competency-based courses. They can be completed individually or as a cohesive set to earn the Distribution Logistics Leader Certification.
“The WERC credentials employees earn by successfully completing the course demonstrate they have invested time in enhancing their knowledge of the logistics industry,” added Devine. “That will give them an advantage when competing for advanced positions within their company.”
Unique content developed by WERC members
WERC members helped plan the curriculum and continue to make significant contributions to the development of each course’s content.
Interviewed in the Distribution Logistics Fundamentals course, Glen Wegel, vice president of operations & IT at Kitchen Cabinet Distributors and a WERC Advisory Council director at large, helped shape the curriculum.
“The rapid growth of the industry provides myriad opportunities for high- performing individuals to ascend to the supervisory ranks, but many struggle with the strategic requirements that come with leadership roles. Why? The need for supervisors and managers is now, and there isn’t as much time to gain experience and exposure at the elemental level as there historically was,” he explained.
He participated after recognizing that no other training exists to educate people who are newer to the industry and need foundational knowledge that they can apply to their job immediately.
“This course supports the education and growth of high potential individuals and junior leaders who haven’t had exposure to many topics that senior leaders think of as fundamentals,” Wegel continued. “I’ve been a part of multiple organizations where top performing individuals were promoted into leadership roles and expected to perform as veterans, but without proper training and follow-up these individuals weren’t set up for success.”
Rick Fox, president and CEO of FOX IV Technologies and member of MHI’s Board of Governors, also contributed to the development of this first e-learning course. He said that the intense competition from other industries for the same group of workers was part of his motivation in adding content.
“We need to attract new workers to our field by demonstrating the range of technologies and skills needed to coordinate a successful supply chain,” he said. Fox added that the course makes employees aware of their role in the process, and how they can participate in an exciting, challenging, complex and dynamic industry.
“I shared my expertise, experiences and lessons learned in the hope that those new to the industry will find logistics a career with plenty of opportunities for developing friendships, career advancement and learning new skills,” Fox continued.
Distribution Logistics Fundamentals offers interactive graphics, interviews with professionals from all levels of a warehousing operation, videos, self-assessments and quizzes. Students can work through its six separate micro-modules at their own pace but must complete each one in succession to advance through the material. There are approximately four hours of content included, covering:
- Fundamentals of material handling and warehousing operations, including key areas within a facility, and how each process interacts.
- Operations associated with inventory movement, storage, control and protection, plus supervisors’ responsibilities across receiving, inventory management, picking/packing and shipping.
- Roles within a warehouse and the aptitudes and skillsets each requires, illustrated with firsthand accounts from managers about their career paths.
- Layout and design principles, including flow, material handling systems, inventory management and velocity analysis, layout, ergonomics and best practice picking and packing processes.
- The most common types of facilities, including warehouses, distribution centers, parcel handling facilities and fulfillment operations.
- Overviews of the key trends impacting the industry, including e-commerce, technological innovations and sustainability.