Archive for December, 2010
Zipping around the floor of a Crate & Barrel warehouse in Tracy, Calif., a cadre of 35 orange robots helps solitary human employees do the work of six people. The squat machines carry shelves with the company’s 8,000 different products to people, who pick just the items they need to prepare online orders for shipment—all without walking around the sprawling building. While Crate & Barrel sees orders quadruple during the holiday weeks, this warehouse gets by with just double the employees, about 90 humans, thanks to the robots.
Meanwhile, just outside of Phoenix, Amazon.com Inc. takes a more human-powered approach. There, employees walk 18 to 20 miles a day down aisles lined with shelves, filling library-style carts with the latest orders and carrying items back to packing stations. For the holiday season, this Phoenix facility—one of about 20 that Amazon has across the U.S.—quadruples its staff to about 1,200 to handle the holiday rush, with teams working 24 hours a day.
Which approach is better is a matter of debate in the 15-year-old e-commerce industry. Amazon has avoided robots at its fulfillment centers, aside from systems that came with recent acquisitions such as Diapers.com. Yet Kiva Systems Inc., the company that makes the robots used by Crate & Barrel, now has systems in place at several top online retailers in the U.S., including Gap Inc., Staples Inc. and Gilt Groupe Inc.
The debate is more than academic. Fulfillment centers are under pressure to match customer expectations for online shopping, with the ability to sort through an ever-widening selection of products and get them to customers as fast as possible. But warehouses designed to house and ship big pallets of a glassware to retail stores aren’t necessarily efficient at getting a pair of roller skates, an iPod and paperback novel all into the same box.
The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity.
Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, they are all curious characters. Richard Feynman was especially known for hisadventures which came from his curiosity.
But why is curiosity so important? Here are four reasons:
- It makes your mind active instead of passive
Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger.
- It makes your mind observant of new ideas
When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
- It opens up new worlds and possibilities
By being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.