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Amazon is replacing order packers with machines that are five times more efficient

By Shawn Knight · 45 replies
May 13, 2019
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  1. Amazon is automating a task at its warehouses that you may be surprised to learn is still held by humans – packing customer orders.

    Sources familiar with the matter tell Reuters that Amazon in recent years has started installing automated order-packing machines at some of its warehouses. The machine, referred to as the CartonWrap, scans goods as they come down a conveyor belt and “envelopes them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item.”

    CartonWrap can pack up to 700 boxes per hour which is four to five times the rate of a human packer. The machines, at $1 million each plus operating expenses, require one person to load custom orders, another employee to stock cardboard and glue and a third to fix occasional jams.

    A spokesperson for Amazon said they are piloting the new technology with the goal of increasing safety, speeding up delivery times and adding efficiency across their network. “We expect the efficiency savings will be re-invested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created,” the spokesperson added.

    Amazon recently committed to replacing its two-day Prime shipping perk with one-day service. Being able to package orders at a much faster rate could help realize that goal while freeing up human workers for other roles within the company.

    Lead image courtesy Jonathan Weiss via Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 505   +334

    Nobody saw this one coming...
    JamesSWD likes this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,389   +3,776

    If he were smart he would take the best and brightest and send them to school so they could maintain that equipment to keep it as peak efficiency. When the Fanuc robotic system was first introduced it was great for productivity but there were no where near the base of skilled tech's to keep it going. It took nearly 5 years to bring up enough maintenance people so while it's very economical now, back in the beginning it nearly went bust because of so few skilled people.
  4. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,832   +677

    Now the articles about Amazon abusing employees will be replaced with articles about how Amazon throws employees away.
    p51d007 and Drew Valadez like this.
  5. Ray Marden

    Ray Marden TS Member

    This is just the beginning.

    We're heading into a realm where a number of people won't be needed, at least from a business perspective.

    How is society going to address this?
    Darth Shiv and psycros like this.
  6. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,979   +2,282

    IMO, it is more likely that they will be replaced with articles about how crApazon is abusing machines. ;)
    Its simple. No one will be able to afford anything and society will collapse.
    psycros likes this.
  7. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 321   +220

    Keep fighting for a larger minimum wage for unskilled workers...It makes it economically feasible to replace them with robots and automated systems.
    Cubi Dorf, p51d007 and Morris Minor like this.
  8. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,891   +2,217

    And when all jobs have been replaced no one will have money to spend.

    However, I strongly support the idea that if a person cannot support themselves on the wages provided by their employer they shouldn't be doing that job. Further, if some of making billions off of people who can't pay their rent, well, give them a raise or replace them with automation.

    It is unamerican to shame someone into saying it's their fault they get poverty wages. No one who works 40+hours a week should live in poverty
  9. bandit8623

    bandit8623 TS Addict Posts: 153   +58

    Ur opinion is unamerican.. We all have had choices in life that bring us to where we are. Schooling is practically free if you donttmake enough money so being uneducated is not a good excuse. Being an American means doing what you can to move up and better yourself. Staying at McDonald's for 20 years isnt the American dream for a reason.
  10. Morris Minor

    Morris Minor TS Addict Posts: 109   +53

    I for one welcome our ai overlords!
  11. bluetooth fairy

    bluetooth fairy TS Booster Posts: 90   +62

    freeing up human workers for other roles within the company
    Not everyone can be a coffee-lady in their office, though
    Dimitrios likes this.
  12. Dimitrios

    Dimitrios TS Guru Posts: 465   +346

    Why make Billions profit when you can make Trillions? Human greed, it built human society and it will break human society.
    Godel, wiyosaya and captaincranky like this.
  13. Lounds

    Lounds TS Addict Posts: 196   +117

    IAMTHESTIG likes this.
  14. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,891   +2,217

    McDonald's actually has good wages and benefits, you do what you have to to take care of your family and pay your bills. Education is not free, education in the US is some of the most expensive in the world. Infact, student debt is one of the biggest boons on the US economy. People are in an entire houses worth of debt before their life has even started. On top of that, the job market is so saturated with college degrees that it is bring wages down. The wages of tradesman is going up because everyone has a college degree they can't pay for.

    If the people working for you are living in poverty then you don't deserve to own a business. All work is honest work and anyone who puts in their 40 hours should be able to love a full, happy life. Now we live in a society where two parents, each working two jobs, can barely feed their kids properly. And who do we blame? Not the guy getting rich off of making his employees poor, we blame the people working 40,50,60 hours a week.

    And what choice do we have? Go from one slum employer to another? I'm lucky I work for who I do, it took me over a decade to find a good company in my field.
  15. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,712   +2,507

    "Amazon is automating a task at its warehouses that you may be surprised to learn is still held by humans – packing customer orders."

    Why would robots be that capable of packing out a zillion different items? The only operations that I've even heard of using this kind of technology are ones that produce items of extremely standardized shapes and sizes like paper manufacturers. Maybe I've been living under a rock but automated packing on this scale is news to me.
  16. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Booster Posts: 117   +52

    **** working conditions but okay wages so I've been told just wish they would reduce the packaging by 5 times as I regularly get boxes from them twice or three times the size of the original item many would fit through a letter box ,,,frustration...I know they got due care but ffs not overcare lolol
  17. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,891   +2,217

    Multi axis claw arms with QR scanners
  18. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 671   +563

    Unfamiliar with history? The same way it did in the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s whenever a new tech came online and made multitudes of laborers obsolete. Some will gnash their teeth as they can't find anything better to do. Some will protest. Some will riot. Most will find another job.
    p51d007 likes this.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,945   +3,993

    Someday I'm going to open a fake TS account as "Private Happy", who is an oafish but friendly imbecile, congenial, but completely out of touch with reality. Then, I'll freely be able to talk out my a**, making posts which have no basis in fact whatsoever...

    But for now, I'll post as myself about student debt: This from "the Economist":

    The Economist reported in June 2014 that U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.2 trillion with over 7 million debtors in default. In 2014, there was approximately $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. that affected 44 million borrowers who had an average outstanding loanbalance of $37,172.

    More directly to the issue of "almost free schooling":

    Community College of Philadelphia seeks to make a college education accessible for all students by offering affordable tuition rates. These tuition rates vary based on residency: Philadelphia residents pay $159 per credit hour. Other Pennsylvanians pay $318 per credit hour plus a $10 nonresident capital fee per credit.

    Community Colleges are more or less "13th & 14th grade".

    But, I guess in some way you're correct, you can always default on your student loans

    Delving further along with (y)our reality check:

    The average cost per credit hour is $594. After calculating the average cost per credit hour forcolleges across every sector (including private and public, for-profit and not-for-profit, and two- and four-year colleges), the typical cost of a college creditcomes out to $594.46.Jan 24, 2018

    And of course, the obligatory link to my source:

    PEnnn likes this.
  20. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,994   +3,481

    You are right, poor unskilled workers should just take below a living wage, work themselves to death, and then die to decrease the surplus population /s.

    America in a nutshell.

    "Schooling is practically free"? In what America have you been living in? The education debt bubble is literally one of the biggest issues the country has.

    Moving up the class ladder is essentially dead in the US. The system makes it overwhelmingly hard. The middle class pay a vast majority of the taxes.

    Communism and Capitalism can't coexist. Socialism and Capitalism on the otherhand can and do.
    PEnnn, Godel, Lounds and 1 other person like this.
  21. Teko03

    Teko03 TS Evangelist Posts: 575   +297


    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,720   +806

    I'm surprised no one said anything yet but I'd be expecting a lot more broken/damaged items due to insufficient or improper packaging.
  23. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 321   +220

    You misunderstood my comment....I agree people should not stay on minimum wage...they should take the initiative, learn, become skilled, and improve themselves rather than believed the work owes them....Be Responsible for yourself
    bandit8623 likes this.
  24. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 817   +400

    Give the mall drugs to make them feel happy and not think about why they cant have what 1% has. Win/win.
    And then only small percent that will refuse to take drugs will fight against the system while being labeled terrorists.
    You can find out what happens next when you buy my upcoming book from Amazon called drugs war and the end for just 9.99
  25. bandit8623

    bandit8623 TS Addict Posts: 153   +58

    When you make under 30k you dont pay much after assistance

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