Why Robots Will Be Processing Your Amazon Orders This Holiday Season

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By Jennifer Taylor December 23, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Robotic DeliveriesTo help process the millions of orders it will receive this holiday season, Amazon won't exactly be enlisting the help of Santa's elves.

Instead, the country's largest online retailer plans to expedite order-processing times and get them to customers faster with the help of more than 15,000 small orange robots that look like oversized Roomba vacuums at its 109 warehouses around the country.

According to a December 2 LA Times article, the robots, named Kiva, weigh about 320 pounds each and can bring order processing times down to just 13 minutes from the hour-plus length of time it would take personnel to do the same job. The robots will both make warehouse efficiency easier than ever to achieve and make Amazon's countless customers happier with their holiday shopping delivered to their doors in record times.

The robots do this by lifting multiple shelves of Amazon goods off the ground and then delivering them to employee stations for packing and shipping, the LA Times reports. That means Amazon's warehouse personnel no longer need to spend hours walking around in search of the items on customers' orders.

The Kiva robots' diminutive size also means Amazon will be able to store more goods in its already-massive warehouses, as they require less aisle space than human personnel. And for Amazon's customers, the robots' efficiency and speed mean lower prices as well.

Amazon's push for better warehouse efficiency and warehouse organization has raised concerns that the company will cut jobs it no longer needs due to the Kiva robots. However, Amazon says it hasn't cut any jobs -- and that it actually added an additional 80,000 seasonal jobs for this year's holiday season, according to the LA Times.

"What we've done is automate the walking element," Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations and customer service, said. "Our focus on automation is to do automation that helps employees do their job in an easier way, in a more efficient manner."

Amazon says it's in the earliest stages of automation -- and no other warehouse-based company is trying out what Amazon is doing just yet. But as robots continue to take on the more menial, labor-intensive warehouse tasks, who's to say there won't soon be robots that can conduct forklift battery handling equipment management on their own?

How do you ensure better warehouse efficiency at your warehouse? Share your thoughts on Amazon's warehouse robots with us in the comments below.

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