Auto­mat­ed box pack­ing will replace human work­ers, with 24 roles dis­ap­pear­ing for each ware­house facil­i­ty hav­ing one of these robots installed.


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This sto­ry orig­i­nal­ly appeared on PCMag

Robots in Ama­zon’s ware­hous­es are tak­ing on a new role of box­ing up orders, and they do so much more effi­cient­ly and quick­ly than the human work­ers they replace.

As Reuters reports, Ama­zon has been exper­i­ment­ing with a new type of auto­mat­ed pack­ag­ing robot that can 3D scan the goods includ­ed in an order as they trav­el down a con­vey­or belt. Those goods are then placed in a cus­tom-size box the robot cre­ates that’s per­fect­ly sized to fit.

Each robot pack­er can han­dle up to 700 orders per hour, and unlike their human coun­ter­parts, do not require reg­u­lar breaks, nev­er go home, and can’t get sick. Wor­ry­ing­ly for work­ers, one robot at a ware­house means 24 human roles are no longer required. If the same robot was rolled out to each of Ama­zon’s U.S. facil­i­ties, that would be 1,300 roles removed.

Each robot pack­er costs $1 mil­lion plus run­ning expens­es, which sounds like a lot until you con­sid­er Ama­zon will recoup the mon­ey spent in just two years. Those sav­ings come from employ­ing few­er peo­ple, but also the effi­cien­cy and low main­te­nance costs such a machine enjoys.

The loss of roles in pack­ing at Ama­zon does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean a loss of jobs. An Ama­zon spokesper­son com­ment­ing on the machines, said, “We are pilot­ing this new tech­nol­o­gy with the goal of increas­ing safe­ty, speed­ing up deliv­ery times and adding effi­cien­cy across our net­work … We expect the effi­cien­cy sav­ings will be re-invest­ed in new ser­vices for cus­tomers, where new jobs will con­tin­ue to be cre­at­ed.”

Ear­li­er this month, Ama­zon’s direc­tor of robot­ics ful­fill­ment made it clear that full ware­house automa­tion is nowhere near ready to hap­pen. We’ll appar­ent­ly be enjoy­ing ware­house roles for at least the next decade. Even after that it sounds as though the roles are sim­ply chang­ing rather than dis­ap­pear­ing com­plete­ly. What will the Ama­zon work­er of 2029 be doing exact­ly, then?

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