What does making coffee have to do with IT? Click here to find out. Nate visited the GMCR warehouse recently, and was impressed. He notes that the company started selling coffee online way back in 1996. "It's safe to say," he writes, "that up in Vermont, GMCR was pioneering today's technological marketplace long before anyone really knew what the web was good for."
Check out GMCR's inventory tracking system:
Between 2003 and 2004 GMCR had their automated warehouse running. Imagine a four-story warehouse space with massive floor-to-ceiling racks that look like giant bookshelves. Next imagine that each shelf of the bookshelf split into shipping-palette-sized sections. On each of these sections there is a digital counter. Now imagine a database that keeps track of which kinds of coffee, which bean, which kind of bag, in which box, lives on which shelf. When an order for a palette of a particular coffee is placed, somewhere in this warehouse the appropriate digital counter lights up. Then a warehouse worker grabs the correct palette with a forklift, delivers it to the shipping dock and resets the digital display.
But what happens when a customer only wants a box or a bag of coffee? This whole operation is replicated in a smaller scale in another part of the warehouse, except instead of palettes of boxes of coffee, there are bins of coffee in various sizes. Same deal. If a customer wants two boxes of K-cups in Hazelnut, a counter under the appropriate bin lights up and a warehouse worker grabs two boxes and shoots them down a conveyor belt towards shipping.
Cool beans. Heh.
You can meet Nate and ask him questions about his job as an IS director at the upcoming Vermont 3.0 Creative Technology Career Jam — Saturday, October 25 at Champlain College. Nate is on a panel called, "So, You Wanna Be The 'CTO.'" It's at 10 a.m.
Nate has also written about Colchester-based Competitive Computing.