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An interview with our instructor Sascha Thomas What to know about the apprenticeship Warehouse Logistics Specialist

It was pure chance that brought 33-year-old Sascha Thomas to work in logistics. At the time, he was looking for an apprenticeship and it was hard to get a spot. Luckily, he was able to find one with a large shipping company in the area of logistics. Though he admits that it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight, his career in logistics soon became a passion. Thomas is now a certified foreman in logistics services and is fascinated by the numerous facets of his line of work. In this interview, he tells us more about working in this field, what logistics specialists have in common with ninjas and why a 2-euro coin plays an important role in his apprenticeship.

Mr. Thomas, what exactly does a warehouse logistics specialist do?

When young people hear about the job “warehouse logistics specialist,” most of them assume that the job is rather monotonous. People often underestimate a career in logistics. In reality, though, the work of warehouse logistics specialists is extremely varied and requires a range of different expertise. Even as an apprentice, you have to juggle many different logistical balls at the same time. For example, they are responsible for sourcing the materials, and, in the end, for ensuring that the necessary materials are available to those working in the production facilities. Or they are responsible for making sure that goods are imported smoothly and seamlessly. Which means that it is their task to arrange for punctual arrival of the containers from abroad. And, on the export side of the equation, logistics specialists see to it that goods are reliably delivered around the globe.

The warehouse logistics specialist apprenticeship generally takes three year – with part-time classes at the vocational training center in Remscheid.

That does indeed sound like a challenging and interesting career. What is most important in logistics work?

I always tell my apprentices with a wink: “You have to be like ninjas. Ninjas are fast, precise, always a step ahead, and they see the whole picture.” Logistics is not just about the execution, it’s also about planning, thinking ahead, and playing an active role. Put simply: much, much more than just driving a forklift! As a warehouse logistics specialist, I am always thinking about what I can do to improve a process.


What are the various stages in the apprenticeship?

The apprenticeship starts in the receiving department, which entails the physical receipt – where trucks arrive with loads of goods – as well as the receipt of goods in the system. This is a business-oriented task in which, for example, the apprentices have to book materials into the merchandise management system. Then they move on to production logistics, so that they can understand the processes in their entirety and can supply the machines with what are known as the “fast movers.” After that, the apprentices spend time in the semi-finished goods warehouse and the finished goods warehouse. Here they learn how to store goods based on productivity and safety criteria as well as how to carry out a quality evaluation based on correct quantity and integrity. If everything checks out, then the warehouse logistics specialist has to provide confirmation of the receipt of goods. This process requires conscientiousness and independent action according to clear criteria.

And what about the more well-known task of driving the forklift?

Forklift driving and a forklift license are, of course, also part of the training. I like to teach the apprentices about forklifts myself. And, just so everyone understands, it is not at all like driving a car, it’s more difficult. But, in the end, the apprentices are all really good at it and they can even pick up a 2-euro coin with the forklift. This is actually something that I practice with my apprentices. Of course it is only for show, but it’s also really cool and motivating. In addition to their training here at Coroplast, the apprentices also attend the vocational school and learn the necessary theories. In the first training year, they attend the school once a week and after that, twice a week. This makes the three years of the apprenticeship go by in a flash.

Each year, Coroplast Tape trains one warehouse logistics apprentices, which means that Sascha Thomas always has three warehouse logistics apprentices to look after at a time.

I look after my apprentices in a very personal, individual fashion according to their needs, strengths, and weaknesses. I’m always there if our apprentices need something – be it advice, help or just someone to lend an ear.

Sascha Thomas | Group Leader Production Logistics and Instructor at Coroplast Tape

The three most important tips for the apprenticeship: These are the qualities and skills you should have as an applicant in order to make it onto the shortlist.

  • The type of degree our applicants have is not really all that important. When we have a young applicant that is interested in and excited about organizing, then they will be a good fit for the apprenticeship. Their passion and motivation are more important than their grades.

  • Our apprentices should enjoy both working on computers and in an office setting as well as with technical machinery such as forklifts. And being relatively physically fit is also a plus.

  • It’s important that you are able to quickly comprehend new tasks when it comes to computers and different software. And decent math skills are also necessary, since you have to be able to quickly convert units, read load capacity charts and to calculate how many pallets will fit on a truck.

Normally, Sascha Thomas, a certified foreman in logistics services, sets up a trial day with the potential apprentice before they sign the apprenticeship contract, so that both parties can see whether it will be a good fit.

What makes the apprenticeship at Coroplast Tape special?

What makes the apprenticeship at Coroplast special is the personal training and the equipment. Here, the apprentices don’t just tag along. They are trained on an individual basis and they learn their trade in detail from the bottom up. At Coroplast, the apprenticeship starts in the company itself. The apprentices are directly involved in company processes and our goal is always that they will continue working with the company. The equipment here also stands out: We are highly digitalized in all departments – everything is modern and cutting edge. Even the forklifts are all digitally integrated; they all have their own set terminal where they are booked out and in. Monitors, touchscreens, and scanners are the tools of logistics specialists. The goods in the high-bay area are managed using QR codes and barcodes. We even use driverless transport systems now to transport goods to the machines.

Our warehouse logistics apprentices know our processes in and out. At the same time, our apprenticeship provides an overarching education, so that apprentices are also sought-after experts for other companies and branches.

Sascha Thomas | Group Leader Production Logistics and Instructor at Coroplast Tape

And, lastly, a personal question: Why do you choose to work as an instructor at Coroplast Tape?

I have worked for Coroplast Tape since 2013 and I love coming to work here every day because the company offers such great opportunities for career development. I myself am a great example: I started in the warehouse, quickly became a team leader, then the foreman, and now I am the group leader and responsible for the production logistics. These are the opportunities that I want to offer my apprentices. My goal is to teach them all about logistics starting with the fundamentals. They should know and understand the theory, so that they can do their job to the best of their abilities.

I love my work as an instructor and I especially enjoy watching the progression from inexperienced apprentice to seasoned expert.

Sascha Thomas loves music. He has played the guitar since he was 12, but he also plays the bass and drums. With his band “Spurwexel” he regularly plays for small (and large) concert halls.

Thanks for talking with us, Mr. Thomas!

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