Data entry man at gas station has been taking inventory for 30 years


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/05/09/data-entry-man-at-gas-station.html


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#2

The link on the main BB page is broken, but the inventory terminal looks something like this:

https://cybarcode.com/wis/data_collection_terminals/portable/batch/wis-500


#3

I slowed down the video and figured out what he’s typing:

“Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger! No Coke, Pepsi! Four Pepsi! Three Pepsi! Two Pepsi!”


#4

Weird.  


#5

The man is an employee of RGIS, a contractor that inventories retailers. The gadget is a ?20? year old, custom designed and built box. My guess is an 8 bit processor, with old NVram, perhaps running a forth.
Pgming it is very weird, the supervisor has a suitcase with a pc and serial link software.
The gadget can run a bar code scanner, and has to be loaded with an inventory of expected product numbers. Corp in Detroit has database gurus, who distill info from the retailers, to prepare the gadgets.
I worked for them part time, around 2000, for several months. They use a swarm of semi-skilled drones with gadgets, about 30-50 for a medium size store. It takes 4-6 hrs, working at night, or early in the am, while the store is closed.


#6

The man is not an employee of RGIS, RGIS does not use machines that look like that anymore. I know this because I work for the manufacturer of these machines (I actually do the firmware programming and design for this particular machine). We sell these machines to many inventory service providers, and I can narrow down this gentleman’s place of employment to a small handful of companies.

The machine in this video is either a Titan 4000 or Titan 2500 (it is impossible to tell from the case alone, as there are only software and internal configuration differences between the two machines). They are manufactured by A.S.T., Inc. out of Holly, Michigan. (http://www.astmi.com/products_titan4000.aspx). They are completely built in the USA, and all software development is done right here in the USA.

Though the Titan does look a lot like the (old) RGIS machines, it is not the same and has been extensively upgraded since then. In fact, we used to program and manufacture the old RGIS machines prior to 2005/2006.

The machine is an ARM-9 based 32 bit processor containing both SRAM and NAND flash. It is purpose-built. People may think it looks “old”, but it really needs the full size travel keyboard with Cherry key switches in order to get the speed needed to do this kind of work. We take great care to make the software and hardware fast enough to support this kind of data entry… You aren’t going to key things this quickly with a touch screen or chiclet keyboard.

It also has a USB 2 interface, as well as wireless transmission capability. Serial link is not used.

I tried to post this yesterday by clicking the Comments link, but all it would do is loop around to the same page or the author page.


#7

@beschizza Ask and ye shall receive. Ain’t the Internet awesome?


#8

The gif doesn’t do this justice. It just makes it look like he’s idly flapping his fingers.


#9

Okay, we’ve talked about the equipment. But what is he DOING? I know it’s inventory, I know he’s counting. Counting how, that needs to be so fast? Accurately? Estimating? Inputting a description of the item? Or generalizing? I’d love to hear a description of the whole process.


#10

Maybe he’s just nervous trying to pick the right beverage.


#11

I do this job. He works for a different company than I do, but his machine is very much like the older versions of the one I currently use. I use a thing called an RM2. It is purpose built for the job of performing inventories. I think the ones we use run on Windows CE, they have a detachable BT finger laser, mechanical 10 key keypad, WiFi, USB, and a touchscreen for alphanumeric entry. Each inventory is downloaded into the team leaders laptop, and from there the inventory devices are downloaded with that inventory’s program and SKUs. The team of inventory associates scan assigned areas of the store and transmits the data to the laptop via WiFi, or USB stick if you’re in a bad zone.

The gentleman in the video is doing a grocery financial inventory. Grocers want to turn over their stock quickly so they have us tabulate the value of the aisles either quarterly or monthly so they can see how that aisle is selling. What he is doing is entering the milk price, $1.99, *9, *9, *9… (because 9 quarts in a row in the coolers) Then the gallons, $2.99 *5, *5… left to right top to bottom. Transmit your area, on to the next one. An inventory associate is promoted based on their metrics. Grocery inventories are where you can fly. I always try to get the Kool-Aid aisle or big stacks of cans.

I’ve been doing it for just over a year now. About half of what I do is apparel, from little boutiques to huge chain stores. We also do warehouses, groceries, pharmacies, jewelers, gift stores, surgical supplies, bookstores, and hardware. I’ve scanned everything from Armani Suits to Zoo Doo. As for the job, it could pay better. The travel can suck if you have to go through downtown. The hours are atrocious, you work after the store closes until the event is done or at oh-dark thirty before the store opens. It might take a few hours or you could be in for a 14 hour day if things go sideways. Downtown traffic and parking sucks. On the plus side, it’s different every day. My co-workers are the salt of the earth. The job is fairly physical so I stay in shape. You also get to hang out in empty malls late at night.


#12

I was going to ask for a NSFW tag…


#13

Jerry Holkins is moonlighting as a inventory clerk?


#14

What I don’t get is why this is necessary.

You have a record of inventory coming in, you have a record of inventory sold. If you compare them, wouldn’t you get exactly what he’s recording? And on an instantly updated automated database instead of manually once a month by someone you hope is pushing buttons accurately?


#15

Shrinkage.


#16

Oblig.


#17

“Hey, how’s it going, 4, 6, 4, 3, 7, 9, 45, 3, 5, 7, 8, 3, 23, 5, 7, 8, 45, 23, 34, 7, 8, 9, 56, 3, 2, 77, well, see you later.”


#18

This reminds me of Virginia, the cashier at an A&P 50 years ago, who could punch up prices on her electromechanical cash register faster than a laser scanner reading UPCs.


#19

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