Distribution Centres - Algorithms and Consequences

I recently caught up with an OR-related video on TEDX by Mick Mountz "The hidden world of box-packing".  Operational Research is not mentioned by name -- typical of OR being "The hidden science".
How do you organise packing at a distribution centre?  Do the packers go and roam around the warehouse?  Or do you send things on a conveyor belt?  Mick Mountz' talk is all about creating a world for the packers, where the goods arrive automatically where the packer and their supply of boxes is to be found.  It works with robotic motors (coloured orange) which move the storage shelves (coloured blue) to the packing station. 
The talk has some good video material for teaching.  Beyond the illustration of a commercial site, there are some interesting comments about the consequences.  The system adapts to the speed at which a packer works; one person taking a bathroom break doesn't anyone else; and the underlying algorithms arrange the mobile shelves so that those with the most frequently wanted items are closest to the packing stations.  And that layout adapts with seasonality.  

There are numerous comments about the video, some for, some against.  Packing boxes is repetitive, but so are many jobs these days.  The packers do not get social interaction and it could be argued that the objective of creating a pleasant working environment has been ignored. 
There are further OR-related questions which could be considered.  How big does the distribution centre have to be to make it worthwhile for the proprietor?  Could such a system be used for packing where a customer walks into the store, or is it solely for online retail? 


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