Not the kind of crash we were expecting

Flashback to the 1960s, when this pilot fish is an IT manager at a supermarket chain. "In that era, all supermarkets carried a large replenishment supply in the back room, which used up much space and valuable inventory," says fish.

"We devised and implemented a system with a catalog that listed all the items a store was authorized to stock. Someone would go through the store in the late afternoon, mark in the catalog what was needed and call it in. At 9 or 10 p.m. the same day, a semi from the warehouse would arrive in front of the store with the order on wheeled pallets, which were placed in the correct aisles so a crew could restock the shelves. This would free up the back room for more selling space."

Everything on IT's end of the new replenishment system seems to work fine, and the first pilot delivery run is scheduled for the chain's flagship store -- right next to corporate HQ, where a big crowd from the office gathers to watch.

At the appointed time the big truck pulls up, and with much fanfare the chain's president cuts the seal on the rear doors and swings them open.

Fortunately. he's fast on his feet. It turns out that when the truck pulled in front of the store, it parked on a slight uphill grade.

And when the president opens the doors and the locks are removed on the first pallets, the assembled employees watch as 15 or 20 rolling aluminum pallets do their gravity-mandated thing -- and come crashing down to end up in a pile in the middle of a busy street.

"Future deliveries were made with the truck pointed in the other direction," fish says. "But the program was quite successful, and was soon implemented for all the stores serviced by that warehouse."

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