We’ve shared with you an account of life as an order-picker in a large e-commerce warehouse, where order-pickers need quality walking shoes as they power-walk around a massive warehouse, collecting items to be boxed and shipped. Amazon bought Kiva Systems, a company that makes shelf robots, in 2012. These robots don’t roam the shelves: they bring shelving units to the order-pickers, who can perform their jobs much more quickly when they don’t have to walk from shelf to shelf.
This isn’t about saving the aching feet of order-pickers, of course: the idea is to cut costs. An order picker in a robot-equipped warehouse can nab 300 items per hour, but a worker human-powered warehouse is supposed to get about 100. One expert told the Wall Street Journal that automating warehouses in this way could cut fulfillment costs by as much as 40%.
By the end of the year, Amazon plans to have about 10,000 shelf-bots roaming its warehouses.
Amazon robots prepare for Christmas [MarketWatch]