Conveyor spaghetti…..

The UPS air sort hub in Louisville is an extraordinary marriage of technology, engineering and business processes. I was amazed, not only at how fast everything around me moved, but how little human effort it took to make that movement happen. In one sort, humans only touch the package twice while in Louisville, Kentucky — once to unpack it from the air cargo container and once to repack it into it’s outgoing air cargo container. The package spends the rest of it’s Kentucky residency on miles of conveyor that stretch as spaghetti throughout the facility. It would be as close to a chaos orchestra as I could think of.

There was one point, probably my second favorite part in the tour (read yesterday’s post for a clue as to what my favorite part was), where I was in the 4 million sq ft building about four stories up against this guard rail looking out onto all of the conveyors (not unlike a scene from Monsters Inc with all the doors). Looking down I could see no less than three different layers of conveyors. The top, closest layer ran towards me and then disappeared underneath my feet. Boxes were whizzing by at 10-20 mph. Another layer below that paralleled the top layer, rose up and then merged with it arranging boxes and joining them into the top layer flow like a professional New York City traffic cop. The layer below that one ran perpendicular to the other conveyors feeding them with newly arrived packages. What I thought was neat was, while studying this mezmorizing cubular flow, seeing one of my company’s boxes zip by. Then another. There’s yet another. It was very satisfying seeing our boxes hurry to their destination knowing that in just a few hours a pharmacist would open them and give the products to our patients who relied upon quality of life improving biologics. It made me proud of my role in that process.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net