Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Amazon’s Slowdrip Automation is Replacing Packaging with Robots

They can crank out 600 to 700 boxes an hour, or 4 to 5 times the rate of a human packer

I’m a futurist and I’ve been writing on the automation of retail for years. Here’s a case in point, a story that was broken by Reuters recently. Robots in E-commerce warehouses are the only way E-commerce can be profitable. It’s a bit like ride sharing and robot taxis.

The truth is Amazon is not at the cutting edge of robotic tech necessarily, more so in China.

Amazon started adding the technology to a “handful” of warehouses in recent years. The machines scan goods coming down a conveyor belt and package them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item, two people who worked on the project told Reuters.

  • In the story of automation machines will always be cheaper that human workers.
  • Amazon is replacing some workers at its fulfillment centers.
  • Retail automation will means millions of jobs globally will be lost to robots, machine intelligence and AI.

Amazon’s latest warehouse machine demonstrates the slow drip of automation

The machines cost more than 1 million dollars but are at least 4 times faster than a person. Conditions in Amazon E-commerce warehouses are already considered low.

Industries like fast food, jobs like cashiers and E-commerce grunt jobs really will be under threat in the coming years to due to automation.

You can check out the video by Reuters here on this.

This really is the “slow-drip of automation” we are witnessing and in the next two decades it will change how we see work, productivity and the employment costs of machines.

Amazon has considered installing two machines at dozens more warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one, the sources said. The warehouses typically employ more than 2,000 people. From drone delivery to warehouse automation, the future of E-commerce is way more robotic and governed by a hybrid human-AI system.

With Walmart set to roll out next day delivery, the game is changing and logistics is everything. I think Alibaba and (in China) are ahead of Walmart and Amazon in this regard.

Replacing cashiers, cooks and factory workers is of course just the beginning. Automation and better AI means millions of middle class jobs will be under threat as AI will take over many of the tasks in our existing jobs in the coming decades. The E-commerce warehouse is a microcosm of the future of automation.

Amazon is famous for its drive to automate as many parts of its business as possible (to reduce costs), whether pricing goods or transporting items in its warehouses. But the company is in a precarious position as it considers replacing jobs that have won it subsidies and public goodwill. Amazon needs to tread carefully, since it has among the highest consumer trust levels in the world as a global brand.