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How Amazon’s Kiva robots shorten order fulfillment time – 30 minutes instead of hours

Emmanuel Amberber
2nd Dec 2014
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Last year, it was drones. This year it will be robots. When the company in question is Amazon, there are no surprises.

While getting readying for Cyber Monday sales rush, the retailer showcased to media (Paywall) its army of robots that will help in fulfilling orders for the biggest online shopping day of the year.

Kiva_Amazon

The newest generation fulfillment centers are utilizing robotics, vision systems and high-end technology to speed up order delivery times for customers.

We live in the age of instant gratification. In 2014, the ability to fill online orders at lightning speed is a default consumer expectation. This robotized-speed helps Amazon sling more goods out of the door quicker than ever. It’s only a matter of time before Amazon brings it to India, thus setting the bar for its e-commerce rivals higher than ever. Flipkart, Snapdeal time to up your game?

So what are these Amazon’s Kiva robots

Amazon acquired robot maker Kiva Systems for for $775 million in 2012 and improved their ability to be able to move 50% more inventory in and out of the center. Kiva robots ride at about 5mph and can carry as much as 720 pounds. They do not crash each other because they are networked with embedded sensors so each robot knows where the other is. To get underneath the shelf, the robots screw themselves up to the shelf and lift it,then transport it to the nearest human operator. The human operators can just stretch their hands to grab the item and pack it in and disperse the package out into the wider system for delivery. In the run-up to Christmas, this will help Amazon cut it’s operating costs by 1/5th and get packages out the door more quickly.

Amazon’s eighth generation fulfillment center:

The Kiva robots, 15,000 of them across the U.S., are only one part of the Amazon eighth generation fulfillment centre. Here are some of its other amazing features.

Amazon_Robostow
Robo-Stow, one of Earth’s largest robotic arms moving large quantities of inventory for customer order fulfillment;
New vision systems enabling the unloading and receipt of an entire trailer of inventory in as little as 30 minutes instead of hours; and
New, high-end graphically oriented computer systems for employees to use while fulfilling orders for customers.

“The Amazon fulfillment teams are dedicated to innovating in our fulfillment centers to increase speed of delivery while enabling greater local selection at lower costs for our customers. The advancements in our latest fulfillment centers hit all three of these customer desires while continuing to provide a work environment that is great for employees,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations and customer service.

Amazon announced saying it will hire 80,000 seasonal employees to fulfill customer orders this holiday, a 14 percent increase over last year. The company expects that thousands of those employees will stay on in regular, full-time roles. But according to Pew Report robots will take over half of all human jobs within decade or two

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