‘In any major contemporary enterprise the warehouse is a very complex logistical system, right in the middle of constantly moving people, equipment, and loads. And our company is no exception here.’ Tamara Snigireva, Senior Warehouse Operative at the Omsk subsidiary of Gazpromneft Snabzheniye, knows better than most just how much effort and labour goes into managing the never-ending flow of inbound goods, in tracking every delivery — particularly if we’re talking about high-precision instruments for the oil industry.
‘I’ve been involved in our industry for many years. My life might have changed, but an oilman (woman!) I was, and an oilman I remain. I began work as an operator-machinist at the Omsk refinery before family responsibilities meant I had to take a career break. When I came back I transferred to warehousing — a field about which, at that time, I knew very little. But I understood how important deliveries were — for which we, warehouse staff, of course, are ultimately responsible. You see, it’s not just a question of the right marks in the right places, but actually numerous parts in an enormous, never-ending production process, all of which have to be carefully stored and accounted for.
I started work in the chemicals warehouse, where they keep the components for making oils. These are very expensive materials, many of them produced abroad, all of them needing a close eye kept on them. You check the integrity of a package from every angle: sunlight and moisture cannot be allowed to compromise its value, whatever the weather outside. Every document, every detail has to be accounted for; every day you do another stock-take, do your own cross-checking and verification — you can’t do otherwise in our business.’
This sort of responsibility isn’t for everyone
‘I’ll say this straight off: working in warehousing — if it doesn’t sound too pompous to say so — you’ve got to love it. Many people come in off the street, not knowing anything about production, nor about the specifics of working as a warehouse operative. And, let me tell you, it’s not everybody that can bear that sort of responsibility. You have to have something in your character for this work to be right for you — really, it’s painstaking work, and by no means easy. Attention to detail, an understanding the specifications of every consignment and, most important of all — it’s essential to understand and take on board, fully and honestly, what the word ‘responsibility’ really means to you. Not everybody can do that. But when you see what sort of valuable consignments you’re working with, and what they mean for the whole production chain, you grow a special kind of resolve, a sort of ‘core’ inside.’
‘These days I’m focussed mainly on the storage of control and measuring devices, for measuring volumes of oil products. These are placed on pipelines and other equipment, and it’s highly accurate, very delicate technology — and, obviously, very expensive. In working with such high-value goods attention to detail is absolutely vital. You don’t just ‘look after’ this sort of equipment — to start with, you have to confirm its delivery, which means confirming that this is precisely the right equipment needed: each unique installation within a refinery requires its own specific control and measurement equipment. You have to go into all of these nuances in some depth, to make sure there are no discrepancies.’
It’s always worth the effort
‘We’ve implemented our own accounting procedures at our warehouse, which is by no means the case in all storage facilities in Russia. Apart from keeping records (with the help of a warehousing programme and a handwritten journal), we undertake one further step in accounting for freight, using barcoding. It requires a bit more effort on our part, but it’s worth it. The real benefit of barcoding is — you don’t have to spend too long looking for things. One swipe with the scanner and — there you see it, whichever pigeon-hole or bay the goods you’re looking for are being kept in. All of which saves considerable time for the client, when he has to drop in to the warehouse in order to check or to look over equipment. These sorts of details matter, they help optimize time savings for those people who have entrusted us with looking after things — and it’s gratifying to see that they appreciate this.
Every morning my colleague and I check over our warehouse area — check how the lighting and communications systems are working. We confirm the security and safety of high-value goods, and check their condition. Then we get down to processing the orders, looking to see what resources we’re going to need for the day — somewhere we might need labourers for loading and unloading, somewhere else we might need warehousing equipment. We think through what resources we’re going to need for each task, and start working through these. Our work is done in tandem, although we also work closely with lots of other people.’
Respect — the bedrock of every relationship
‘I think the key condition for any good working environment — it comes down to good relationships between people. Mutual respect, understanding — it all helps build the morale you need to manage — thoroughly and methodically — document circulation, equipment storage conditions, and much else. All of our work is built on hundreds, thousands of details, every nuance of which is important. Your head has to be working all the time! Nothing can be simplified, or shortened, because the quality of the reporting and accounting — and that means, the entire work of the warehouse — depends on all of these details. And I very much value and respect those of my colleagues who are able to withstand any amount of pressure and who always give one hundred percent.
Our workloads increase considerably when new capacity is introduced at the Omsk refinery, or existing equipment modernised. We are completely in tune with the rhythm of production and, every day, work for as long as is necessary. We are just a small part of the wider Gazpromneft Snabzheniye production chain, but a great deal depends on us.
My husband also works in the oil industry. After work we meet up with colleagues, as friends. These vital, real-world connections — the ideal job, in my favourite city — are what’s important in life. When my husband and I are able to go on holiday together, we like to travel around the area: an Irtysh evening round a bonfire, excellent air, nature. I also enjoy going to the theatre with one of my grandsons, going to exhibitions, and spending time at our dacha. I don’t know how to express this feeling: something intrinsic, an instinct for my homeland.’
Tamara Snigireva was born on 21 June 1961. In 1979 she started work at the Omsk Refinery as an operator-machinist at the hydro-treatment facility. On returning from maternity leave in 1991 she started working in the warehousing complex. She has held the position of Senior Warehouse Operative since 1997, and currently heads Warehouse No. 53, Gazpromneft Snabzheniye. She is a long-service employee of JSC Sibneft — Omsk Oil Refinery. She enjoys traditional Russian dance, and loves spending time at her dacha, surrounded by her children and grandsons.