Friday, 28 December 2012

08:36 – I finally ordered a bottle-top dispenser yesterday from one of my wholesalers. Also called auto-burettes, these are basically pumps that sit on top of reservoir bottles and deliver an accurate volume of liquid with each stroke of the pump.

I thought about ordering one some time ago, but decided not to. They cost about $200 each, but the real reason I hesitated was that we were filling only 30 bottles at a time. Having to stop every 30 bottles to tear down and clean out the dispenser before refilling it with the next chemical just wasn’t worth the hassle. Filling 60, 90, or more bottles at a time probably makes the setup/cleanup time worthwhile.

The model I ordered can be set to deliver 2.5 mL to 30 mL per stroke, in 0.5 mL increments. It’s accurate to ±0.5%. The working surfaces are Teflon-coated, and it handles a wide range of viscosities accurately. It’s designed for production use all day long every day, so it should be durable. We’ll see how it works out.

09:53 – Barbara announced this morning that she wanted a new ceiling fan in the den. I thought we’d installed the one that’s in there now, but she tells me it was there when we bought the house back in 1987. In the past, I might have thought about driving out to Home Depot to see what they had available, but this time the thought never crossed my mind. I looked up ceiling fans on Amazon and ordered one. Total time, five minutes, if that.

Amazon is rapidly becoming what Sears Roebuck was a hundred years ago: the first choice of retailer for a large percentage of the public. I wonder how long it’ll be until they have a real competitor. Sears blew it, as did all of the other big box brick-and-mortar retailers. Sears still has a chance, but I don’t think they’ll take it. To do so, they’d have to recognize that on-line can’t coexist with brick-and-mortar. It has to be one or the other. Sears would have to close down its physical stores and shift entirely to the web. They’d have to expand their product lines hugely to match or beat Amazon. And they’d have to bring up their own equivalent of AWS. On the plus side, they already have a distribution network and warehouse infrastructure at least as good as Amazon’s. But I doubt that anyone at Sears will admit that after more than 100 years their brick-and-mortar retailing operation is as dead as every other B&M retailing operation, and act accordingly.

12:17 – I just finished running 2,200+ labels, which is 60 sets of chemistry kit bottle labels. That’s 1,440 15 mL bottles, 660 30 mL bottles, and 180 30 mL widemouth bottles. Once Barbara gets all those bottles labeled, we’ll run a batch of 60 biology kit labels and then 60 forensic kit labels, and then another 60 chemistry kit labels. Given the number and mix of kits we sold in 2012, I want to start the busy season in July with 300 to 400 kits worth of chemical bottles ready to roll, so we’ll be doing lots of labels and bottles between now and July.