Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Compact Storage Facility

No "Storage" category, so a toss-up between "Queuing" and "Rental'
  [vote for,

There exists a business in which storage-space is rented. For decades they tended to occupy a significant chunk of landscape, to allow easy ground-level access to each storage unit (various sizes available) of the facility. Recently I've seen some multi-storey storage facilities getting built, so I'm guessing they incorporate very powerful elevator systems, for moving large amounts of stuff easily between ground level and the level of some particular storage unit.

Even the multi-storey facilities still occupy more landscape than necessary, however, and this Idea is about a way to shrink them significantly (or to put a lot more units into the same space as before). It depends partly upon a lot of statistical data about how many of the storage units in a typical facility are ever accessed at the same time....

First, we need to select a size for a storage unit. A common size is about 3 meters x 3 meters of floor area. For the purposes of this Idea, we shall offer 3 sizes, a 2x2- meter space, a 3x3-meter space, and a 4x4-meter space. All the units are the same height --let's go with 3 meters. This facility is 3 storeys high, with all the storage units on each floor being the same size.

Each storage unit is literally a box, strongly built. There are doors on all four of its walls, and each box is move- able. It has a bunch of caster wheels on the bottom, and an RFID chip on top, along with means of being grabbed (by ceiling-mounted machinery) and moved.

Now see the link, for a classic puzzle/game. Imagine all the squares EXCEPT ONE occupied by a storage-unit box, and an aisle completely surrounding the overall square.

Remember what I said earlier, about how many of the units are ever simultaneously accessed? A 5x5 array of move- able storage-unit boxes has 24 total in that array, with 8 on the inside and 16 on the outside. If as many as 2/3 of all the units are ever accessed simultaneously, this array would be fine.

However, if all the units are simultaneously ever accessed to a lesser extent, then a 6x6 array (or more) might be preferred. it will contain 35 move-able storage-unit boxes, of which 15 would be on the inside and 20 on the outside (4/7 of them accessible at once). A 7x7 array would hold 48 move-able units, with 24 on the inside and 24 on the outside (50% accessible simultaneously). An 8x8 array would hold 63 units, with 35 on the inside and 28 on the outside (4/9 accessible simultaneously). Historical usage statistics are extremely critical to this Idea!

Note that where-ever one's particular rented storage unit might be, the "puzzle" consists of finding the shortest path for moving that unit to the outside edge of the array. The renter can be told where, along the outside aisle, to go to await the arrival of the storage box. I suspect the corner- locations will always be prime destinations (never want to shift any box getting accessed!!). I'm sure computers can solve that simple a puzzle with ease.

(Technically, there will probably always be one less than the maximum of simultaneously-accessible outer boxes, due to the need to be able to shift at least two of them, to move a desired box to the outside. If the array had two holes in it instead of one, though, then only shifting a corner box becomes problematic to its neighbors. Perhaps the corner-boxes should be permanently fixed in place, and never moved? They would only need 2 doors each, but renters could be charged more, for the convenience of always knowing where to go to access their stuff.)

When someone closes the door to the storage unit, the system can then know that the renter is done, and that space along the surrounding aisle is now available to a different renter. The purpose of the RFID chips is to make sure the units can be re-identified if a complete power failure happens to cause location-data to be lost.

Vernon, Apr 05 2018

Classic Sliding Puzzle http://www.nemitz.n...Q/SlidingPuzzle.htm
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, Apr 05 2018]

Japan cremated remains urn conveyor system https://www.japanti...-dead/#.WscWCe3gWnI
[not_morrison_rm, Apr 06 2018]

Roller Racking Capsule Hotel Roller_20Racking_20Capsule_20Hotel
Logical [8th of 7, Apr 10 2018]


       Good idea - like those airport valet parking places where the cars are all boxed in, but for storage
hippo, Apr 05 2018

       Imagines the laughable chaos when a Russian or North Korean virus hijacks the controlling system.
xenzag, Apr 05 2018

       Or the Iranians ask for their box of MFPA ...   

       There are library/document filing systems where long shelves are set parallel on tracks and can be rolled back and forth; there is only one "aisle" which is "moved" by shifting the shelving units.   

       This gives nearly the same packing fraction as the proposed idea, with a much simpler structure, since the blocks of units only move along a single axis.
8th of 7, Apr 05 2018

       "roller racking" is the name of this shelving technology
hippo, Apr 05 2018

       Yes, we know. Howerve, not all readers may be familiar with the precise technical term, so a description is appropriate.
8th of 7, Apr 05 2018

       On the other hand, everyone knows MFPA is the Manitoba Food Processors' Association. At least, that's the top result on acronymfinder.com.
pertinax, Apr 05 2018

       This appears to be an idea that has been condensed from 40 words to a mere 679.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 05 2018

       I thought each location would have a compactor, so that each 3 x 3 x 3m storage unit can be hydraulically compacted to less than 1m thick. Then they can be shelved like books.
pocmloc, Apr 05 2018

       You could use this idea to create a capsule type hotel.
xenzag, Apr 05 2018

       //MFPA is the Manitoba Food Processors' Association//   

       I thought it stood for the Male and Female rooms at the Perth Arena.
AusCan531, Apr 06 2018


       My thought reading the last paragraph is, what happens if someone is inside when the door closes? Do other users just hear screams moving around the facility every time someone accesses their unit, fading to quiet sobs and then a curious scent?
Selky, Apr 10 2018

       [Selky], you can be sure that there will be safety features. However important they might be, they are incidental to the main Idea here, of designing a storage facility that packs a lot of units into a comparatively small space.   

       For the particular incident you described, there could be infrared-detectors connected to the door-closing system, preventing closure if a heat-source is inside. For example.
Vernon, Apr 10 2018

       // there will be safety features //   

       You're no fun any more.
8th of 7, Apr 10 2018


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