As the countdown for Christmas begins, Amazon is experiencing crunch time now and the busiest employees at the retail giant's warehouses (called fulfillment centers) during the holiday season are – Robots!
On Cyber Monday, Amazon pulled the curtains on its eighth-generation fulfillment centers at 10 locations across the United States. The warehouses employ "Kiva technology (robots), vision systems and almost 20 years' worth of software and mechanical innovations," the company said in a statement.
More than 15,000 of the Kiva Robots are deployed at the fulfillment centers. Robo-Stow, one of the largest electrically engineered arm-bot, is also being used to lift and move inventory across the warehouses.
The new vision systems accelerate the conveyor belts, which in turn speed up the process of loading and unloading inventory. What used to take hours now only takes 30 minutes.
While the robotic arms are now doing all the heavy jobs across these warehouses, the human hands also have access to new computer systems for faster billing and shipment confirmation.
Watch all the action in the new generation fulfillment center in the video below:
It's not just the addition of robots but also the design of the warehouse that has changed. The new fulfillment centers are spread out in a single open floor plan and have no aisles, which makes for easier work flow – saving time, effort and cost too.
"It makes things much faster. In our older generation buildings we are very proud we can get something out the door in a couple hours ... in a Kiva building it is just minutes," Craig Berman, vice president of global communications at Amazon told ABC.
But with the advent of such technology, should Amazon employees expect job cuts? Not really.
In fact, Amazon announced that it will be adding 80,000 more seasonal employees to help deliver products faster. That's a 50 percent increase from the number of employees added at the same time last year.
Amazon has been crowned the role model of "modern innovation" but its employee problems persist. Working conditions at the company's fulfillment centers have been controversial and so has its minimum pay.
Through the new automation system, Amazon aims at reducing the stress of the work on its employees and making work easier to take off the load. Employees get special holiday meals, sing Christmas carols and take part in ugly sweater contests at the fulfillment centers.
"It's a badge of honor to get through a peak season," Kathleen Jelley, a process assistant at a San Bernardino fulfillment center, told The Press Enterprise.