Bucket brigade

A Bucket brigade is a method for transporting items where items are passed from one stationary person to the next. More specifically, it refers to a method of firefighting before the advent of hand pumped fire engines, whereby firefighters would pass buckets to each other to extinguish a blaze. This method generally maximizes throughput.

The method is applicable only if the number of participants is sufficient compared to the distance to cross. This principle inspired various technical items, e.g. the Charge Coupled Device (CCD).

A "Bucket Brigade" can also refer to group of community members who have constructed specially made buckets to take air samples. Examples are from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Clean Water Action's Bucket Brigade.

A Bucket Brigade refers to the accumulative heat transfer process on a stack placed in a thermoacoustic heat pump which results in a temperature difference.

The term "bucket brigade" is also used for a certain method of organizing manual order picking in distribtion centers. Here customer orders to be processed are passed from one order picker to the next. When the last picker in line has finished picking an order he walks back and takes over the work of the next-to-last picker, who in his turn also walks back and so on, until the first man in line is reached, who then commences picking an entirely a new order.

Similar applications of the idea of bucket brigades also exist for production lines.

See also

Bucket Brigade Device


Bartholdi et al.: Bucket Brigades: A Self-Balancing Order-Picking System for a Warehouse*

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