It is the place where your online shopping wishes and dreams come true, so Amazon aptly calls them fulfillment centers. But if you’re thinking of happy elves busily packings gifts to be delivered by flying reindeer, you are definitely thinking of the wrong holiday. In Amazon’s eighth generation fulfillment centers, the buzz and the noise don’t come from cheery creatures with pointed ears but from robots of all shapes and sizes, working in unison to meet the hectic surge of demands this Cyber Monday.
It almost seems like a scene out of a futuristic factory but this here and now. Amazon employs the use of the latest technology to squeeze in as much as it can from every process and every second. And it definitely needs to, considering that Cyber Monday is considered one of if not the biggest online shopping day of the year.
For example, Amazon has 15,000 Kiva robots to move goods around. But don’t belittle these vacuum cleaner-like robots as they can lift whole shelves of items and route themselves without a hitch. It’s like watching an eerie and mechanical robot ballet. But there are bulks that are just too heavy even for the powerful Kiva, which is where Robo-Stow comes in, the largest robotic arm known to man, for moving large quantities of packages in one lift. And it isn’t just the hardware either, as there are new vision systems that takes the drudgery out of unloading and receiving an entire shelf of inventory, reducing the workload from hours to 30 minutes. And new computer systems also keep human workers efficient and sane during these insane days.
And yes, of course, there are also human working hard in those 10 new Amazon fulfillment centers operating across the country. Amazon says it will hire 80,000 seasonal employees just for this occasion. Hopefully, thousands of those will be retained for regular employment even after the holiday madness is over.