Every day thousands of people, just like you, place their essential orders with Bidfood. To get some 38,000 orders out to restaurants, cafés, hotels, pubs, clubs, accommodation and healthcare providers across Australia there are teams in over 40 depots around the nation.
The faces behind the delivery trucks
From Bendigo to Bunbury, Cairns to Kalgoorlie, Emerald to Geelong, and every capital city, there are Bidfood branches staffed by teams of men and women who you deal with on a regular basis. There are the reps who come to your business and the people who take your order. Then there are the people who you will probably never meet. They are the forklift drivers who unload trucks, people who pick your order and those who pack your order and double check you are getting everything you asked for. We take a look behind the scenes to meet the people behind every order.
Meeting the morning crew
Every day before dawn, the morning crew of each branch greets the supplier trucks loaded with goods. Some branches are busier than others, but a capital city branch can expect 35 to 40 trucks arriving throughout the morning, carrying 24 to 36 pallets of stock. The refrigerated trucks are guided into the delivery bay. Before they open their back door, an air-operated seal, like a giant airbag, wraps around the back of the truck, ensuring there is no change in temperature and the cold chain remains unbroken.
A fleet of forklifts greet the trucks to remove the pallets. To see them operate is like watching a well-rehearsed routine. The ‘forkies’ quickly but carefully work around each other, signalling with a quick wave, nod or honk of their horn. To become a Bidfood forkie, drivers not only need to have a licence but are also required to be inducted into Bidfood’s unique and trusted safety program. It can take up to two weeks of supervised training to bring new employees up to speed but, once trained, they can work anywhere around the nation with Bidfood.
Ride on pallets? What for?
On each pallet could be a range of goods from one supplier. The bottom half could be cheddar cheese from the dairy producer, the top half pizza-ready mozzarella. To make sure there is never confusion, the morning crew break down the pallets and repack boxes of a single product on individual pallets. For the chilled and frozen product, this all happens in the anteroom. This is a chilled room where the temperature barely rises above 0°C. The pallets, now loaded with singular supplier goods, are taken into their respective warehouses. To make this happen, the morning crew uses ride-on pallet movers or forklifts to lift the pallets up into the pallet bays for storage, some can be as high as a three storey building.
There is a shift change in the middle of the day. The morning crew heads home after a 4am start of receiving supplier deliveries and replenishing the ‘pick line.’ Then the afternoon crew take over to start fulfilling the orders. They are called the ‘pickers.’ They pick your order and prepare for delivery. They get busier and busier as the order cut-off approaches and work into the night to make sure your order is packed for delivery the next day.
At the lower levels of the towering pallet racks is what is known as the pick line. This is where the orders are picked from. “Our job here is to make sure customers get exactly the right product that has the best shelf life,” says Andrew. When you place an order, it is divided into three different pick lists – dry, frozen and chilled goods. Teams of pickers go up and down the aisle selecting the products you have ordered and placing them into boxes. It takes a team roughly two hours to go through the pick line.