Amazon's New Robots Help Distribution
Amazon has implemented more than 15,000 wheeled robots in its largest distribution centers, making the leg work easier on its staff, according to a report by ABC News. Employees at Amazon's Tracy, Calif. Distribution center said that they are able to pick items and prepare them for shipping at a faster rate with the robots on hand.
The 1.2 million-square-foot Tracy location, which employs more than 1,500 full-time workers, is one of 10 distribution centers to receive the robots.
The Web retailer invested in upgrading its distribution network this year by adding new technology, opening more shipping centers adding 80,000 seasonal workers to combat the mountain of holiday orders. This past Monday, Dec., 1, was "Cyber Monday," which is the single largest day of online shopping for many online stores. Amazon processed orders for 36.8 million items last year for Cyber Monday.
This isn't the only robotic advancement for Amazon. CEO Jeff Bezos said he wants to implement package delivery by drone in the future, but the technology is not ready yet. The distribution center robots use technology acquired when Amazon bought Kiva Systems Inc., a robot-making company, in 2012.
The robots are able to slide under stacks of shelves four feet wide and lift them, holding up to 750 pounds. They use bar codes to track the location of items on shelves, so the robots are able to bring the correct shelf for workers as orders come in.
The robots work underneath the stacks of shelves, so this means that shelves can be stacked more closely together, allowing for more room in the warehouse. Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president for operations, said that the Tracy distribution center can ship 700,000 items in one day, and that these numbers will increase next year. He also said that this system will cut the Tracy center's operating costs by 20 percent without eliminating jobs.