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Thread: Moving food(etc) down lines of people..is it efficient?

  1. #1
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    Moving food(etc) down lines of people..is it efficient?

    I was watching the news about Haiti, and there was a line of people moving bags of food by chucking the bags one to the other, down the line..

    I was just wondering whether this is really a good way to move things...

    It looks bad for the back, it also looks like it a strain on the stomach muscles, and takes a lot of energy.

    Humans have evolved to be quite good at walking, and where there is room to move, and a good surface I would have thought that it would be more efficient for each person just to carry the bags from truck to where they're supposed to go.

    What do people think?


    ETA: the title of this thread is due to the original title somehow not being allowed by the software..

    Was "Moving food(etc) down lines of people..is it efficient?" originally.
    Formerly Frog march.

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    "Many hands make the work light."
    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    ETA: the title of this thread is due to the original title somehow not being allowed by the software...
    I think it's the parentheses
    ...(etc)...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sarongsong View Post
    "Many hands make the work light."


    but they can make light work by carrying the bags individually..

    I think it's the parentheses
    I tried it without that, but it still wouldn't work.
    Formerly Frog march.

    Newscaster: ... But I've just had a report that a representative of Disaster Area met with the environmentalists this morning and had them all shot, so now nothing stands in the way of the concert going ahead this afternoon on this beautiful sunny day.

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    Tossing things from person to person has a long and honourable tradition--the bucket chain, for example. I think it has the advantage, if nothing else, that you don't have to worry about shifting loads as you carry them. Further, there's no jostling for position or uncertainty about who gets passed what next.
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    I saw a photo of soldiers unloading a helo in that way and wondered the same thing. When we did stores loading on the submarine it was done like that, but there the path from dock to final storage spot on the sub was not easliy walked and certainly couldn't handle traffic. But, as you say, where there's room, why not do it by walking in a loop?

    I don't know, but I'd have to give the benefit of the doubt to those organizing the unloading work. It's not like it hasn't been done before and hasn't received some thought.

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    Do ants do it that way, at least sometimes? If so, the tradition could go
    back several tens of millions of years!

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
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    geonuc,

    What was the vertical drop at the sub hatch? Did people drop material to
    someone to catch it below, or did they lower it down on something? When
    the family cat got up on the roof and couldn't get down, I tied a rope
    harness around her to lower her to the ground.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    http://www.FreeMars.org/jeff/

    "I find astronomy very interesting, but I wouldn't if I thought we
    were just going to sit here and look." -- "Van Rijn"

    "The other planets? Well, they just happen to be there, but the
    point of rockets is to explore them!" -- Kai Yeves

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    Advantages of the bucket brigade are: comradely, learn to work together, stamp out individuality, helps identify lazy, inconsiderate, uncoordinated and uncooperative workers, irregular footing is a reduced hazard. There may not be enough room for the workers returning empty handed to get past the dangerously swinging buckets or whatever = reduced probability of a worker injury. Let's all help even if there are fewer buckets than people. Advantages are less clear for moving boxes of various sizes. Neil

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    None of you fine folks are movers are you?

    Allow me to explain something seemingly counter-intuitive. The bucket brigade is much better, especially on projects lasting longer than an hour or if stairs are involved.

    Because walking is not "free". It only seems that way when you're not exhausted. By exhausted I mean you are 3/4 of the way done moving a three bedroom house up four full flights of stairs. When I'm moving furniture I get a nice solid 235 pounds. Assuming 40 pounds a leg, that leaves 155 pounds of weight that those legs are moving. You feel that by the ninth or tenth hour.

    On large moving jobs where you are loading or unloading a truck you will have nowhere near enough people to form a human chain. What you want to do is carry the maximum you can move each trip, because it's the number of trips back and forth that kill you, not the weight of the burden. (After a set level of fitness is reached.) I speak from long experiance.

    To facilitate this end I often use a simple moving device called a hump strap. 16 feet of four inch wide burlap strapping that I use to throw around and walk off with a stack of book boxes nearly as tall as I am. (How many of you here can walk off with a stack of enclyclopedias nearly as tall as you are, well enough to get paid for it?)

    If this wasn't so I wouldn't do it that way. I'd take little bites and 3 times as many trips, if that was actually easier.
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilzero View Post
    Advantages of the bucket brigade are: comradely, learn to work together, stamp out individuality, helps identify lazy, inconsiderate, uncoordinated and uncooperative workers, irregular footing is a reduced hazard. There may not be enough room for the workers returning empty handed to get past the dangerously swinging buckets or whatever = reduced probability of a worker injury. Let's all help even if there are fewer buckets than people. Advantages are less clear for moving boxes of various sizes. Neil
    Care to elaborate there Neil?
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    Unloading stores aboard ship where you have to negotiate narrow hatches, doorways and passage ways it's best to do it in a chain. Passing anything around a ship it's the best, bailing a bilge, passing ammo to a turret without power etc.
    All providing you have enough bodies to make the chain.
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    I was going to say what Don said this morning, though maybe not as well. (No, I'm not a mover, I just understand the reasons why I'm lazy. ) I'm still going to say it.

    The efficiency of the human chain is that it can last for a long period of time. The only energy it takes per "load" is that needed to lift the load and pass it to the next person. Carrying something around would require more energy (more exertion) per load, and you'd become exhausted faster. It seems likely that a decent-sized group of people could move more loads more efficiently over a few hours using the chain method than by carrying things themselves. (This may not apply to large and/or heavy objects.)


    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    None of you fine folks are movers are you?

    Allow me to explain something seemingly counter-intuitive. The bucket brigade is much better, especially on projects lasting longer than an hour or if stairs are involved.

    Because walking is not "free". It only seems that way when you're not exhausted. By exhausted I mean you are 3/4 of the way done moving a three bedroom house up four full flights of stairs. When I'm moving furniture I get a nice solid 235 pounds. Assuming 40 pounds a leg, that leaves 155 pounds of weight that those legs are moving. You feel that by the ninth or tenth hour.

    On large moving jobs where you are loading or unloading a truck you will have nowhere near enough people to form a human chain. What you want to do is carry the maximum you can move each trip, because it's the number of trips back and forth that kill you, not the weight of the burden. (After a set level of fitness is reached.) I speak from long experiance.

    To facilitate this end I often use a simple moving device called a hump strap. 16 feet of four inch wide burlap strapping that I use to throw around and walk off with a stack of book boxes nearly as tall as I am. (How many of you here can walk off with a stack of enclyclopedias nearly as tall as you are, well enough to get paid for it?)

    If this wasn't so I wouldn't do it that way. I'd take little bites and 3 times as many trips, if that was actually easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    ETA: the title of this thread is due to the original title somehow not being allowed by the software..

    Was "Moving food(etc) down lines of people..is it efficient?" originally.
    Just ask, and we can change it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    geonuc,

    What was the vertical drop at the sub hatch? Did people drop material to
    someone to catch it below, or did they lower it down on something? When
    the family cat got up on the roof and couldn't get down, I tied a rope
    harness around her to lower her to the ground.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    I never was involved with the operation near the hatches, but I believe the stuff was dropped. Definitely didn't lower it with a rope - that would be too slow. The vertical distance is maybe ten feet from the inner hatch (the sub had two hatches between the interior and the exterior) to the bottom of the ladder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilzero View Post
    Advantages of the bucket brigade are: comradely, learn to work together, stamp out individuality, helps identify lazy, inconsiderate, uncoordinated and uncooperative workers, irregular footing is a reduced hazard. There may not be enough room for the workers returning empty handed to get past the dangerously swinging buckets or whatever = reduced probability of a worker injury. Let's all help even if there are fewer buckets than people. Advantages are less clear for moving boxes of various sizes. Neil
    Say what? I don't think the military or anyone else uses a particular loading/unloading technique to 'stamp out individuality'. They use whatever technique is best to get the job done quickly.

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    I'll second Geonuc,
    I was on a Trident submarine, I think probably later than geonuc, and a lot of effort had been put in to the process for loading stores to minimze the number of hands involved - for major stores loads, we lowered pallets from a crane to an air cusion dolly, so only a handful of folks were needed and none of them were doing heavy lifting. That said, any time we had to load stuff by hand, it was passed from person to person - I think the big reason for this is rest time. If you are packing a load and walking, you're continuously supporting the load, but if passing it down a line, there is always a gap in time where you have nothing in your hands. Also, there is no 'dead time' when you're headed back to the head of line line, expending energy moving nothing but your body. Just my nickel's worth, and glad I'm only expending energy pushing a mouse these days

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    I used to work on an assembly line where I lifted 25 kg bags of grout, 2 000 times a day off a belt and onto a palette. It would have killed me if I had to walk from belt to palette all day. Instead we stood and saved my legs and built up my arms and torso (my torso did most of the work.)

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    I'm one of those efficiency geeks (Lean/6 Sigma). The bucket brigade (BB) is by far more efficient than individual workers walking in a loop.

    A bucket brigade:
    1. stabilizes the workflow, creating even throughput (think of a 'rhythm' to the work - sea shanties helped sailors synchronize their movements)
    2. it prevents any one person from being overburdened and
    3. problems in the level of work or the pace of the flow become immediately evident
    4. walking takes time, exposes you to safety risks and places a greater physical strain - you're moving the weight of the object + your weight


    A process that works well has benefits in addition to accomplishing the work: camaraderie, safer with less injuries, ability to detect and respond to problems quickly, individual creativity for improving the process can be quickly translated to the entire line vs just the individual (universal excellence rather than islands of excellence), you get exposed to the process step before and after you - enhancing the camaraderie, esprit de corps, safety, problem detection......it's a virtuous circle.
    Last edited by GalaxyGal; 2010-Jan-24 at 04:14 AM. Reason: grammatical error

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    At the grocery store, we occasionally had a guy from a construction company buy a pallet of soda that needed to be loaded into a pick-up. The best way to do this was to move the truck to the dock, then have one guy throwing and two guys catching. The thrower would alternate targets. As the thrower, it was far easier on my back to pick up and toss than it was to pick up walk and set down. As the catcher, it was far easier to slow the 12 pack and guide it into place than it was to pick up, walk and set down.

    Unless Jaime was the thrower. That man couldn't throw anything with out putting a death spin on it. I'm amazed the glue on the ends of the pack held.
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