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We are disposable: Amazon to replace more human jobs with robots

Amazon warehouse worker in action (Source: Reuters)
Amazon warehouse worker in action (Source: Reuters)
Thanks to the latest developments in automation and robotics, Amazon needed almost 20,000 fewer workers in 2018 than in 2017. In the coming months, machines that pack orders — which are currently being tested — might burn over 1,300 human warehouse jobs at the 55 fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory operated by Amazon US.

Back in 2000, Amazon had only 3 fulfillment centers in the US. A decade later, the number of such locations — including specialty facilities ran by both Amazon and third parties — was still rather low, at 21. However, after reaching 70 in 2015, the estimated cumulative total of Amazon warehouses in the US is expected to hit 177 next year. Sadly, many human jobs are being replaced by robots as the giant company keeps growing.

According to a fresh exclusive report by Reuters, "The company started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelops them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item." The two people involved in the project who spoke to Reuters also mentioned that the tech giant considered installing two such machines "at dozens more warehouses," a move which would remove at least 24 jobs in each location.

In the long run, installing the aforementioned automation hardware in all 55 fulfillment centers for standard-sized inventory currently operated by Amazon in the US would lead to over 1,300 job cuts. The cost of a machine is US$1 million, and Amazon expects to recover the investment in less than two years. These machines, able to reach an output of up to 700 boxes per hour, are made by Italian firm CMC Srl and can achieve four to five times the rate of a human packer.

Back in late 2018, Amazon employed far less seasonal workers during the winter holiday season due to automation. Now, we are talking about the loss of permanent jobs. Thankfully, Amazon says that "the efficiency savings will be re-invested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created," but we must acknowledge that fact that some warehouse workers might not be able to acquire the skills needed to switch to some new job inside Amazon.

In the coming decade, many human jobs might be replaced by robots. Are you afraid that automation will leave you unemployed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 05 > We are disposable: Amazon to replace more human jobs with robots
Codrut Nistor, 2019-05-14 (Update: 2019-05-14)
Codrut Nistor
Codrut Nistor - News Editor
Although I have been writing about new software and hardware for almost a decade, I consider myself to be old school. I always enjoy listening to music on CD or tape instead of digital files and I will not even get into the touchscreen vs physical keys debate. However, I also enjoy new technology, as I now have the chance to take a look at the future every day. I joined the Notebookcheck crew back in 2013 and I have no plans to leave the ship anytime soon.