Amazon is deploying 10,000 robots in order to streamline the process of order-picking at its cavernous warehouse spaces.
Problem: Workers at Amazon warehouses have to walk up to 20 miles a day while picking up items from shelves to fulfill orders. Solution: Have robots bring 4-foot-by-6-foot shelves to the workers. The company says with the new system workers will be able to triple the number of items they can scan in an hour (300, up from 100) and significantly cut down on the amount of walking required, since the robots bring the shelves to the workers. The robots have been in action already in warehouses in California, Texas, and Kentucky, but a complete list of the warehouses that are using or will use the new robotic picking system is not yet available. Perhaps as a test run for this overhaul, Amazon replaced four floors of fixed shelving at a 1.2 million square-foot warehouse in California over the summer.
The robots, which are the result of Amazon’s purchase of Kiva Systems, are squat and move about on wheels. So how does this new system work? MarketWatch explains:
At the robot-equipped warehouses, 20 or more shelf-toting robots may be lined up in front of a picker, these people said. Employees remove items from the robot-enabled shelves and place them in bins, which are whisked away on conveyor belts to other workers who box the goods, label the boxes and place them on trucks for delivery.