dryriver writes: The BBC has put up a video report that gives insights into how a popular online retailer like Amazon.co.uk copes with the daily order load it faces — an order load that peaks at up to 35 orders per second during the holiday buying season. The video shows a lot of the warehousing techniques and logistics behind a large scale online retail operation like Amazon. Most interesting perhaps is the "random storage" paradigm Amazon uses to store products in warehouse shelves. No product occupies a particular or permanent space on the Amazon shelves. Instead, Amazon's worker bees scan the barcode of any product that is delivered to the warehouse, and intelligent software finds a suitable nearby spot for it on the shelves. The BBC report describes the process as "Tetris-like". The software analyzes the size and weight of the product, and intelligently assigns it a slot on Amazon's warehouse shelves. The software also shows the Amazon workers in charge of fulfilling customer orders the shortest, most efficient route around the facility — which is the size of 6 football pitches — to get all the products a customer has ordered. Also shown in the report are automated conveyor belts that route product packages around the facility, and the machine that sticks the buyer's address on packaged goods before they are sent out. All in all, the video gives good insights into the complex, physical, real-world processes that kick in once you order something from Amazon with the click of a mouse button.
Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the
Open Software Foundation] is its mouth.
-- John Gilmore