Amazon using robots this holiday season to improve shipping efficiency

Amazon has boosted the efficiency of shipping by using over 15,000 wheeled robots that help deliver stacks of products to employees for shipment.

Before the use of these robots employees spent hours picking out each item that customers had ordered to prepare it for shipping.

Rejinaldo Rosales, at Amazon’s massive distribution center in Tracy, California, told the Associated Press that with the help of these robots picking out items is three times faster than it used to be, making the job a lot easier.

On Monday Amazon experienced one of its busiest days of online shopping. It has ramped up spending this year to improve its distribution network, using new technology and opening more shipping centers. It also hired 80,000 seasonal workers to keep up with the heavy demand.

According to Amazon, last year it processed 36.8 million orders on the Monday after Thanksgiving. The company estimates that this “Cyber Monday” will be even busier.

The company forecasts revenue of between $27.3 billion to $30.3 billion this quarter, an 18 percent increase from last year, but still below what most analysts expected.

In the future the company plans on delivering packages using drones, however, the technology is not ready yet.

Amazon’s reliability is one of its biggest selling points and the company appears to be doing everything it can not to lose that image.

Amazon has 109 shipping centers worldwide, ten of which now use robots to improve efficiency. The technology was acquired after Amazon acquired robot-maker Kiva Systems Inc. in 2012.

The robots follow digital commands which are transmitted from a central computer. It navigates by scanning coded stickers on the floor and can slide under and then lift a stack of shelves, holding up to 750 pounds of merchandise.

There are bar codes on each shelf that the robot tracks to identify what items are on the shelf. This allows them to collect the right shelves for each employee.

Using the robots can help cut operating costs by around 20 percent, without eliminating jobs.

Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president for operations, said:

“Our focus is all about building automation that helps people do their jobs better,”

Employees are still vital for completing complex tasks, including checking for damaged goods, packing, and shelving. The robots are helpful for the employees though and they “actually adjust to your speed. If you’re picking slower, they slow down.”

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