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Amazon Christmas

  • Category :
  • business and economics and technology
  • December 30th, 2006

    * Disclaimer: I know nothing about Amazon DC. The below are just standard practice of distributiong center and graph theory everywhere.

    This is the Amazon UK Distribution Center (UKDC). It might look like your regular super market shelf, but there are so much going on in this picture it makes operational research dream land.

    First thanks to standardize pallet size, the DC is organized in mahattan layout. Without standardized pallet, we would have much more wasted space. Notice there is no racks here. It because a typical product only stay here for less than 2 weeks before someone orders it and get shipped. When a pallet comes it, it is getting randomly stowed. Ramdomize stowing along with computerized location system minimize mistakes and maximize the efficicy of space use. You stowe them where there is space, so HP1 maybe next to a barbie, instead of HP2. There are less chance of workers picking up the wrong version of HP.
    The worker travelling with two basket is picking items for two or more orders. Since each order contain random number of items in random location, you need a picking algoritm to try to find the shortest path to all of them. Yes, travelling salesman. When you store items like this, naturally you would think of mahattan distance. But algorithm is only algorithm, mahattan distance doesn’t account to changing condition such as water spills or falklen boxes that may block the way. So what you do is treat each location as a node, and the time it takes from one node to another as weighted vertices. You start off with mahattan, than adjust the weight based on actual time it takes from worker scanning one item tot he next. Do a travelling saleman on it, then you have your simple picking algorithm.

    Entry Filed under: business and economics,technology

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