Amazon’s New Packing Robots to Replace Workers

Amazon is introducing packing robots in some of its facilities that will replace human employees, according to a report from Reuters, citing two unnamed sources. The “CartonWrap” system from Italian firm CMC can reportedly pack 600-700 packages per hour — four to five times the average rate of human packers. The robotic packing system would replace 24 workers in facilities that average around 2,000 workers, according to the report. Reuters puts the nationwide job cuts that could follow full implementation of robotic packing across Amazon’s network at 1,300 jobs. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the capability to Reuters, stating the technology is intended to increase safety, speed up delivery times and add efficiency across its network. Reuters sources said cost savings was the primary goal — at a cost of $1 million per machine, the new system would pay for itself in less than two years. The Amazon spokesperson called robotic packing a pilot. Packing may be the next function for Amazon to automate, but it is far from the last. The company is still at least 10 years away from a “lights out” facility — a warehouse that can run in the dark because there are no human workers. Picking is a function that will require humans for some time, though the function is heavily tech-enabled.
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