In 2020, the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design (CPULD) in the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech partnered with Prologis, Inc, the largest industrial real-estate investment company in the world, to develop a custom training program for their warehouse maintenance technicians.

Prologis builds and/or rents out warehouse properties to its worldwide customers including Amazon, FedEx, Home Depot, Walmart, Pepsi, BMW and more. Especially during the days of COVID19, more and more companies expanded their delivery services directly to customers which created the need for even more warehouses as opposed to retail spaces. In addition to simply renting buildings, Prologis offers streamlined help in setting up their customers’ automated warehouse systems as well as ongoing facility management and maintenance services.

Maintenance technicians are the boots on the ground workers for Prologis. Because these technicians work closely with the companies that rent warehouses from Prologis, they have first-hand knowledge about the major pain points for their customers. The custom, 6-week training course was designed to provide practical knowledge to the attendees on a wide range of topics in order to enable them to identify potential improvement opportunities in the warehouses and offer new solutions to their warehouse clients. 

storage types

storage types

The course covered four major learning areas: supply chain management, material handling and storage systems, unit load stability, and warehouse optimization. The course was originally designed for in-person education; due to the pandemic, the format was modified for online delivery, but it kept many hands-on aspects. Dr. Eduardo Molina, associate director of CPULD, and Dr. Laszlo Horvath, director of CPULD, both taught sections of the virtual training. The materials were divided into six, weekly sessions. Between each lecture, the attendees received homework assignments designed to help them to translate the skills they were learning into practice. To make learning even easier, each module included on-demand, pre-recorded lectures that the attendees watched on their own time as well as weekly, live lectures with facilitated discussions on the covered topics.

By the end of the 6-week course, each attendee had completed a final assignment which challenged them to choose a real-life improvement opportunity from the warehouse that they were responsible for and present their solution to the leadership of Prologis. The training was a huge success! It was repeated in March/April 2021 for a second cohort of employees, and is already scheduled for a third group of employees in the fall of 2021.

CPULD offers multiple short courses on a wide range of topics annually and regularly working with companies to build custom courses for them in all areas related to packaging, pallets and unit loads. To see their current offerings please visit