Sunday, January 22, 2017

I have been reading about how Amazon fulfillment works and how they inventory their vast stock. I found this short video about it:

Besides the vast difference in size and breadth between Amazon and the TSBD, there is the fact that Amazon is a retail outlet whereas the TSBD was wholesale; they serviced schools. They even had the name "School" in their name. So, if it was schools ordering textbooks for classes (and there is no dispute about that) I don't understand how there could be such small orders, small enough for an "order-filler" to round up with nothing but a "clipboard." 

That's right. That is all the "order-fillers" had; a clipboard. No wagon. No cart. And there is no evidence of their being ladders or forklifts for them to access the high stacks. How did the stacks even get there without forklifts? Were those boxes moved by hand? It seems like we should see a forklift somewhere. 

Another big difference between Amazon and the TSBD is that Amazon- like all modern retailers and wholesalers- is totally digitalized. It's all based on barcodes that are scanned. Everything is computerized. And, it's hard to imagine how an operation, even one as small as the TSBD, could function without it. 

Punch card systems go all the way back to the 1880s, commonly used to track employee work hours, but could also be used to keep track of inventory. But, there is no evidence that the TSBD had a punch card system- not even for employees. Have you ever read anything about Oswald, Frazier, Arce, Lovelady, Jarman, etc. punching in and punching out? I haven't. If they had a punch-clock, Oswald would have punched out when he left for the day on 11/22. Wouldn't he have? So, they didn't have one.  

Since they had no computers, they must have had a written system to know where stock was. But, when you think about this mess:

How could there be any "system" behind that? It is complete chaos. 

Note that bar codes didn't appear until the late 1960s, and there were definitely no bar codes at the TSBD in 1963.

So, I have been researching "inventory management before computers." To manage it, inventory had to be divided into manageable "classes" which may have been designated by letters, A, B, C, etc. So, a certain category of books would be stored in a certain section of the warehouse designated by a letter or by something alpha-numeric.  

But, any coding system you had on paper would have to be matched by a visible coding system at the point of access- at the point where you actually laid your hand on the book that you needed. But, there is no sign of the slightest, crudest, most rudimentary organization to the haphazard stacks at the TSBD. 

There is no order in that. That is completely and totally haphazard, jumbled, disorganized, and unsystematized- lacking in any system whatsoever. So, how did they find anything in that mess? We are just going to have to speak to the remaining living "order-fillers" to find out what the hell they did. 

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