Bartholdi on Self-Organizing Logistics Systems

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Dr. John Bartholdi, Stewart School of ISyE Manhattan Associates Professor and Research Director, The Supply Chain and Logistics Institute, recently presented a lecture during the Georgia Tech Faculty Speaker Series on self-organizing logistics systems.

In his presentation, Bartholdi discusses a protocol called the "bucket brigade* which is based on how social insects, such as bees or ants, operate complex logistics systems that are efficient even though no agent is in charge. Instead of a centralized control, each agent follows a simple local rule and an efficient global organization emerges spontaneously. This idea has been successfully adapted to coordinate order-pickers in a warehouse. Under a protocol called "bucket brigades", each worker follows a simple rule; and without conscious intention or even awareness of the workers, the flow of work is smoothed and bottlenecks are removed. Furthermore, this happens without the advice of engineers, consultants, or management. The bucket brigade protocol has increased pick rates by 20-50% at some major distribution centers. (This work is a joint collaboration between Professor Bartholdi and Don Eisenstein of the University of Chicago.)

To view the presentation visit:
(MPEG video, 228.84 MB)




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