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I am new to GIS. For a small project I want to map elements in a warehouse and want to find the location of the elements later (e.g. nails are located at x,y).

Now I am wondering what kind of position I should choose. Should I choose an absolute location coordinate system like 1,3, or should I use real geocoordinates like -7.023, 32.2423 for my use case? Where are the benefits/disadvantages with each approach?

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What do you mean by "absolute location coordinate" and "real geocodes"? – whuber May 17 '13 at 15:20
As i mentioned earlier I am new to Gis. I think it is possible to map objects on a self defined coordinate space, so that i can define where (0,0) is and it is planar. And it is possible to use the "world"-coordinate space where (0,0) is exactly defined and it is of a "round" shape since the earth is a ball. Is this the case? Or do I always have to use geo-coordinates when mapping objects ? – rintimtim May 17 '13 at 15:25
Thanks for clarifying. You will find it helpful--especially when searching for information--to know that "geographic coordinates" and "geocod[ing]" are different. Speaking somewhat loosely, the former refers to a (latitude, longitude) system of designating points on the earth's surface whereas the latter refers to a process of finding such coordinates based on postal addresses or something similar. What you are asking concerns the relative advantages and disadvantages of using a geographic coordinate system as opposed to a local [Cartesian] coordinate system in your application. – whuber May 17 '13 at 17:56
Take a look at the other questions tagged with indoor, which may help you with your other tasks. – RyanDalton May 18 '13 at 3:14

It is best to use a combination of both. Humanly understandable location descriptions are for humans and geographic coordinates can be left to computer software.

Racks, bays and tiers in warehouse shelving systems are normally indexed in a humanly understandable and memorable way such as numerically, alphabetically and/or by colour codes and so on. Items and their locations can easily be recorded that way by warehouse staff and entered into any database, including a GIS database. eg. The item you are looking for is on a pallet number 2376 in Rack 3, Bay 4 and on the second tier. If there is a mixture of items on the pallets then pallet cards can be used to record what items are on the pallet, (a manifest). Pallet cards display id numbers visible to forklift operators and can be edited or replaced with an updated card when items are added or removed, and a duplicate sent to the office to update the database.

The warehouse can easily be drawn as a polygon in a GIS map and actual location of the shelving racks can be drawn in. Information about what is occupying each space can be entered as points approximating the actual geographic location of the items on the shelves and the details recorded in the attribute table.

I use Quantum GIS for something like that and it works great. In my case it's a shed full of road construction signs. When I do a search in the GIS database for an item, its location will be highlighted in the map and I can easily zoom the map to that precise location too if I want. The attribute table contains the tier number. It is even possible to track the location of signs in use out on the roads in the same map layer without any problems at all.

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Very helpful. Do you have coordinates for each location, so to set them on the items once they are moved to a particular location? – Don Nov 27 '13 at 11:24

If most uses of values will be by a map application, storing values on geographic( geocodes as you typed ) will save you from the conversion cost each time you need it on map.

You can save both local and geographic values so the map has his data ready, and another application that use another coordinate space can use the local values.

Local coordinates usually are more precise since using geographic coordinates involves transforming a not plane surface( like globe, or ellipsoid ) into a plane.

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