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We are moving house in a few weeks and have a couple of people helping moving the boxes. My previous experience from moving is of queues building up in small hallways and people getting tired from walking up and down the stairs, so this time, I intend to make this as efficient as possible.

Intuitively, it feels like specializing the labor assignment (e.g. one person offloading the truck, another walking boxes to the door, the third only walking up and down stairs) would improve efficiency, in that it reduces queue-building because people never run into each other. A rotation could then be made for assignments to reduce fatigue.

On the other hand, maybe the monotony in this, that I so carelessly disregard, will actually lead to a increased overall time - regardless of how many pizzas I buy them afterwards.

I did some googling to see if there is a more efficient algorithm for this; my thinking is that this must have been discussed to death when coming up with the car assembly lines in the early 1910s, but there is very little discussion around this on the internet - perhaps no one cares.

My question is therefore to: are there any other optimizers out there that have figured out the ultimate moving algorithm?

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  • $\begingroup$ A line, passing boxes along. As long as boxes are not too heavy. $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Nov 1 '20 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ You can probably optimize more with one or two hand trucks and ramps than you can with other tasks. Anyway dedicate a team to overcome the bottleneck. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Nov 1 '20 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ This question is probably a better fit at Lifehacks.SE. $\endgroup$ – LShaver Nov 1 '20 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think there can be one algorithm for something as unpredictable as a house move. Box sizes and number vary so greatly, as does layout of the home and distance each box must travel etc. Just watch some tips/tricks videos on YouTube and come up with a plan. I'd recommend looking at where you want things to end up in the new house and then packing things into the van in reverse, so the things you need first are easy to get at after the drive. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan R Swift Nov 2 '20 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ It's true that the most efficient method theoretically is the assembly line process, in your case one person to go up and down stairs, another on and off the truck, etc. The assembly line model also assumes no human fatigue, either physical or mental. I believe Volvo found that by having small groups work on a series of tasks start to finish instead of one repetitive task, was nearly equivalent levels of output but much greater employee morale, less turnover and thus less time spent finding and training new workers. You could do the assembly line but switch roles every 15 minutes to stay fresh $\endgroup$ – jko Nov 2 '20 at 17:29

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