Recently Amazon has shown tremendous growth in bringing in automation to warehouses. But now it seems Amazon is taking up automation and AI on another level with respect to bringing in technologies for replacing manual work. Last year, Amazon started incorporating technology to a handful of warehouses to scan goods coming down a conveyor belt.
Amazon is now all set to roll out its specially-made automated machines that are capable of boxing up orders, overtaking a manual job which is currently held by thousands of workers, Reuters reports.
Currently, the company has considered installing two machines at more than a dozen warehouses, while removing at least 24 job roles at each one of them. This set-up usually involves around more than 2,000 people. And if automation will be implemented it will lead to more than 1,300 job cuts across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory. But the company is expecting to recover the cost of machines in two years, at around $1 million per machine plus operational expenses.
Though the changes regarding the machines haven’t been finalized yet because vetting the technology might take some more time.
In a statement to Reuters, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We are piloting this new technology with the goal of increasing safety, speeding up delivery times and adding efficiency across our network. We expect the efficiency savings will be re-invested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created.”
Boxing multiple orders per minute over 10 hours is a very difficult job. The latest machines, known as the CartonWrap from CMC Srl, an Italian firm, pack the boxes much faster than humans. They can manage to pack 600 to 700 boxes per hour, or four to five times the rate of a human packer. The employees of the company might be trained to take up more technical roles.
According to a spokesperson from Amazon, the company is not just aiming at speeding up the process but its aim is to work on efficiency and savings. An Amazon spokesperson said, “It’s truly about efficiency and savings.”
But Amazon’s hiring deals with governments have a different story to tell! The company announced 1,500 jobs last year in Alabama, and the state had promised Amazon $48.7 million in return over 10 years.
Well, Amazon is not the only one in this league of automation, as even Walmart has plans to deploy thousands of robots for lower level jobs in its 348 stores in US. Walmart aims to bring in autonomous floor cleaners, shelf-scanners, conveyor belts, and “pickup towers” on stores.
Looking at the pace where companies like Amazon and Walmart are heading to implement technology in retail space, the future for advanced tech-enabled warehouses are near. But this will be at the cost of jobs of the existing workers who will be at stake.