How we serve: Warehouse team

When you think about the essential roles needed to keep a plant running, a few jobs might pop in your head. Perhaps an electrician or welder, or maybe a mechanic, coalman, or engineer.

One important role that shouldn’t be overlooked is a warehouseperson.

Warehouses that contain parts and products necessary for the facilities to run are located at many of Basin Electric’s larger generation facilities and several of its transmission outposts. The warehouse at Antelope Valley Station is one such location that fulfills requests for every tool, part, or product used at the facility. Mechanics, electricians, even contractors – every person in the entire workforce goes to the warehouse to get whatever they need to do their job.

“Everything needs maintenance, especially when parts are moving 24 hours a day. Someone might come to us and need parts to repair a motor or pump,” Julie Amsden, a warehouseperson at Antelope Valley Station, says. “We also hand out a lot of tools, like slings and chains. And it seems like every day we’re giving out a gasket or two. It’s like a huge store.”

Julie Amsden
Julie Amsden, Antelope Valley Station warehouseperson.

The warehouse even distributes items you may not think about, like cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

The tool room window at the Antelope Valley Station warehouse is where everyone comes to pick up the materials they need to successfully do their work.

“The four of us in the warehouse rotate jobs – sometimes we receive inventory and sometimes we work at the window. Working at the window is my favorite because I get to give people their parts so they can keep the plant running,” Amsden says. “It’s a customer service role, really. I fill their work orders so they can get back out to the plant faster. I like getting to see everyone, smile, and tell them to have a good day.”

When it comes to deciding what to keep on hand, the warehouse team relies on input from the maintenance planners.

“They (planners) know what jobs are coming up or when there’s going to be an outage, so they put in a material request. Then the Procurement team at Headquarters approves that, and the items start getting delivered to us,” Amsden says.

The warehouse receives shipments all day long. When a shipment arrives, the team verifies they received the correct products and inspects them for any damage. Everything has a specific location, so items are put away and then entered into the computer system so there’s an accurate inventory of what is on hand.

“We also manually count all of the items each year to make sure what the computer says is accurate, because someone might have borrowed something and it wasn’t returned. Things like that can happen, and with everything coming and going, we want to make sure stock is available to fill orders,” Amsden says.

The Audit team from Headquarters also audits the warehouse as a second measure of keeping the inventory count accurate.

After the new shipment has been entered into the system, it’s time to start unloading. “A lot of it needs to be unloaded with a forklift, and we’re careful to make sure we’re using the right equipment to lift it because we receive some huge materials. If the items are really big, we’ll have the mechanics or electricians come help load it.

Some large items are even loaded in the location where they’re headed instead of coming to the warehouse, like lube oil coolers, rotors for turbines, and generators that are loaded on the turbine floor or track bay,” Amsden says.

A particularly busy time for shipments is during outages when even more freight is received, so team members from other areas may lend a hand to get everything unloaded, sorted, and put where it belongs.

Amsden added that on top of receiving items, her team also ships items, like a motor that needs to be sent away for repair.

Having so many items to store takes up a significant amount of space. Antelope Valley Station has four warehouse buildings that are full, and Amsden says they could probably fill a fifth. Other items, like six- and 12-inch pipes, are stored in designated areas outside.

The warehouse is typically open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with extra hours put in during an outage, but the team also pitches in when something important occurs that could affect reliability at the plant, even if it’s during off-hours.

“If something happens after 3:30 or on the weekends, they’ll just call and one of us will come open the store to get them their parts, and we’ll stay as long as needed,” Amsden says.

When this happens, a warehouseperson may come to the plant for something quick, but other times it takes much longer.

“We could get called out here on a Saturday and just need to get a part for the electricians, then wait while they do their job in case they need something else, and then go home. Other times, we get called out and are here all day or even all night,” Amsden says. “It could be something simple like a gauge not working, but if it’s something like a feeder belt or bottom ash problem, it could be a really big deal. It might even need to continue through the next morning with another crew. And we need to be here to make sure they can get the parts they need to get the job done safely and keep the plant reliable.”

The warehouses at Basin Electric’s generation facilities play an important role for the facilities and for the entire Basin Electric membership.

“Without the right equipment, our team at AVS (Antelope Valley Station) couldn’t do their jobs and wouldn’t be able to provide the reliable power that the plant generates,” Amsden says. “We have to keep power going to the members, and we’re a huge part of making that happen.”