image credit: Flickr/MarylandGovPics
“Robots are here to work alongside human workers, not to take their jobs!” We’ve heard that a lot lately. We want to take companies for their word but at one major employer, it seems that machines may be replacing some humans sooner rather than later.
Amazon is rolling out packing robots that will box up customer orders in a few of its warehouses. The official name is Carton Wrap and it comes from Italian company CMC Srl. The large machine scans goods as they come down the conveyor belt. They then create an appropriate sized box and package the items.
Carton Wrap Can Package 700 boxes per hour
The Carton Wrap can pack about 600 to 700 boxes per hour. This is about four to five times the speed of a human packer. The packing robot isn’t completely independent as it requires one person to load the customer orders, another to stock the cardboard and a technician to fix jams on occasion.
“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,” said an Amazon spokesperson.
Packing Robots Can Do Jobs of 24 Human Workers
Each machine costs about 1 million dollars along with additional operational costs. The company would be expected to recover the costs in under two years. Amazon is not the only company using CMC’s packing tech as Best Buy, JD.com and Shutterfly currently use some of their machines.
Two machines in each warehouse could potentially replace 24 human workers. Amazon claims that the packing robots will free up those workers for other more technical tasks. The company is considering installing two machines are more than a dozen other warehouses.