Robinson Engineering, Inc.

A Well-Oiled, Automated Integrated System

During my first year of college I worked at a small grocery store near my parents’ house. It was a hallmark in the community for being convenient and somewhat overpriced (though this may no longer be the case).


Part of my job there was to work the check out stand, where I got to manually punch in product category codes and prices because the store didn’t have a bar code reader. While it certainly wasn’t difficult remembering the codes and reading the numbers, manually typing in prices definitely was not fail-safe.

For example, one might not push the decimal hard enough and end up with a bill of $500 instead of $50.00, which would result in the embarrassing task of sometimes voiding out an entire transaction (a time consuming and also not fail-safe process) and then having to manually punch everything in again.

A friend of mine would term this a “first-world problem,” and I wouldn’t disagree, but while it may not be the end of the world to have to spend a few extra minutes with a charming college student in a quaint, old-timey grocery store, thank goodness that someone came up with a better and more efficient process for purchasing produce.

What was that solution? The bar code reader! That device saves time, effort, and embarrassment while delivering an accurate description and price of nearly everything you pick up at the store.

What’s even better is that the bar code reader is connected to the cash register so that it becomes part of an integrated system that tells you what you’re buying, how much it costs, how much your bananas weigh, how much all of that is added up, how much you have to pay in tax, and then calculates your change. What a world!

So yes, while one can still get by with typing in codes, prices, etc, the great idea of automating that process with the use of a bar code reader and some smarter software has surely made checking out at the store easier.

And for all of you worrying about robots taking our jobs when you see the “self checkout” lanes, remember how there’s always at least one employee standing around to help with the inevitable problems that arise from not having a living, breathing, and smiling cashier.

How has automation made your life easier? How has it made it worse? Is there anything that you would like to see automated or perhaps de-automated? Peeling bananas, perhaps?Leave a comment below and let us know!

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