A few weeks ago, Amazon said that it will be at least 10 years before the company has fully-automated warehouses. I guess humans have until then to enjoy their jobs. Partial automation is already underway.
According to reports, Amazon is thinking about installing two machines at dozens of warehouses that could replace at least 24 jobs at each. If the company rolled the machines out across its 55 US fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory, that could mean more than 1,300 job cuts. Ouch.
Sources say that Amazon is considering the CartonWrap machines from CMC Srl, which can build boxes around custom orders and add seals and labels. The machines are said to be able to build 600 to 700 boxes per hour. That’s four to five times faster than a human can do it. Amazon could recover its costs for the machines in under two years.
There are already a handful of the machines in warehouses near Seattle, Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam and Manchester. The idea is apparently to boost automation while retailers wait for robotics that can delicately lift and sort items as well. Rather than lay off workers, Amazon might simply stop filling packing jobs as they become available. These jobs have high turnover rates anyway. Still, not great news for human workers.