Browse Prior Art Database

Multiple Supermarket Check Stand

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000087611D
Original Publication Date: 1977-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-03
Document File: 3 page(s) / 49K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Laurer, GJ: AUTHOR

Abstract

At present, supermarkets which have converted to automatic scanning equipment for reading the universal product code (UPC) symbol have utilized standard checkout stands for accommodating single scanners with a single sales position. While this is expedient, it results in inefficient use of the system components. For instance, the scanner which is a very costly piece of equipment is rarely used more than 5% of the time and never more than 10% even when the check stand is operating 100% of the time. Furthermore, during slack hours, the subsystem, scanner, and other equipment are shut down completely, reducing utilization even more. Another inefficiency results when one must design a system large enough to handle peak loads when all scanners are operating and require simultaneous servicing by the main frame.

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Multiple Supermarket Check Stand

At present, supermarkets which have converted to automatic scanning equipment for reading the universal product code (UPC) symbol have utilized standard checkout stands for accommodating single scanners with a single sales position. While this is expedient, it results in inefficient use of the system components. For instance, the scanner which is a very costly piece of equipment is rarely used more than 5% of the time and never more than 10% even when the check stand is operating 100% of the time. Furthermore, during slack hours, the subsystem, scanner, and other equipment are shut down completely, reducing utilization even more. Another inefficiency results when one must design a system large enough to handle peak loads when all scanners are operating and require simultaneous servicing by the main frame.

As the acceptance of automated checkout systems increases and chain owners are willing to accept more radical approaches to checkout systems, more efficient, less costly systems will be practical. One such system is the unitized scanning system illustrated in block diagram in Fig. 1.

The system for checkout shown in Fig. 2 provides four work stations. One station is a scanner station and the remaining three stations have the facilities for a person to bag, take payment, and assist the customer in preparation for leaving the store (load groceries into a cart, etc). Thus, what is provided is a single scanner to serve multiple checkout stations with multiple cash drawers, printers (receipts), and keyboards.

The unitized scanning concept works as follows: Customers with grocery orders would queue up behind the scanner. Each customer would load his or her grocery order on the conveyor gate carrying that order to work station A. The person at work station A would be bagging the order. When the order is bagged, this person would take payment and get ready for the next customer. Since bagging and payment taking consume more time than scanning, the person doing the scanning is (in the parallel time frame to the A person doing bagging and payment taking) now scanning the second order. When it is scanned, the third person's order can be started.

By the time A has finished taking payment, another customer's order will be coming through the scan process. Thus, one scanner is now being utilized to keep three lanes functioning in the remainder of the checkout process.

Such a system would allow the checkout counter to be manned by one to four people as the customer load dictates. Even under minimum load, the expensive equipment (scanner and controls) would be used. Increasing capacity by multiple...