Netflix's Speedy Secrets Revealed

Workers sort 650 discs per hour; machines scan 30K hourly
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 4, 2009 10:57 AM CDT
In this 2008 file photo, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings smiles at Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Distributing DVDs out of 58 warehouses across the US, Netflix keeps its operations very quiet and extremely efficient; the unmarked building that houses Chicago-area operations was so nondescript he wouldn’t be able to find it again, Christopher Borrelli writes for the Tribune. Inside, workers, many apparently grandparents, whose shifts start at 3am, are expected to inspect and file 650 discs per hour.

Then the discs head to the machines, which scan up to 30,000 barcodes hourly. As soon as your DVD gets scanned, you get an email saying the disc is there. The machine makes a second round of scans, organizing requested films by zip code. Then, a different machine, called a Stuffer, puts the discs in envelopes. They’re carried to the post office after 5pm.