Amazon rolls out robots that pack orders and replace jobs

Mar 2012
54,789
36,423
New Hampshire
#1
Bezos jokes "they work for less than $15 an hour."

Amazon.com Inc is rolling out machines to automate a job held by thousands of its workers: boxing up customer orders. The company started adding technology to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelopes them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item.

Amazon is famous for its drive to automate as many parts of its business as possible, whether pricing goods or transporting items in its warehouses. But the company is in a precarious position as it considers replacing jobs that have won it subsidies and public goodwill.

A key to its goal of a leaner workforce is attrition, one of the sources said. Rather than lay off workers, the person said, the world’s largest online retailer will one day refrain from refilling packing roles. Those have high turnover because boxing multiple orders per minute over 10 hours is taxing work.

The new machines, known as the CartonWrap from Italian firm CMC Srl, pack much faster than humans. They crank out 600 to 700 boxes per hour, or four to five times the rate of a human packer, the sources said. The company is also setting up nearly two dozen more U.S. fulfillment centers for small and non-specialty inventory, according to logistics consultancy MWPVL International, which could be ripe for the machines.

This is just a harbinger of automation to come. “A ‘lights out’ warehouse is ultimately the goal."

Exclusive: Amazon rolls out machines that pack orders and replace jobs - Reuters




































Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington and
 
Likes: pragmatic

Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
50,526
36,892
Pennsylvania, USA
#2
Remember when Trump was on the campaign trail, telling people that "globalization" was the reason that U.S. manufacturing jobs had plummeted in recent decades? Does anyone still believe that nonsense? Automation has cost more manufacturing jobs BY FAR.

And if we had any common sense - we'd be subsidizing research into the robotics field, so we wouldn't be bringing up the rear behind true robotics innovators, like Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Germany.
 
Mar 2012
54,789
36,423
New Hampshire
#3
Remember when Trump was on the campaign trail, telling people that "globalization" was the reason that U.S. manufacturing jobs had plummeted in recent decades? Does anyone still believe that nonsense? Automation has cost more manufacturing jobs BY FAR.

And if we had any common sense - we'd be subsidizing research into the robotics field, so we wouldn't be bringing up the rear behind true robotics innovators, like Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Germany.
Problem is we are beginning to see fewer kids going to college, enrollments are down and around here, smaller colleges are closing. So that will mean either more trades workers or unskilled. I cant even imagine what they will do down the road for work with automation, robots, kiosks etc. We just had a lay off at the DMV, we now have these kiosks to use to renew and register. Tech is coming it seems and its targeting the unskilled. In a way it is globalization which is why we are seeing this all over Europe as well. People fear losing jobs to machines or the "other."
 
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Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
50,526
36,892
Pennsylvania, USA
#4
Problem is we are beginning to see fewer kids going to college, enrollments are down and around here, smaller colleges are closing. So that will mean either more trades workers or unskilled. I cant even imagine what they will do down the road for work with automation, robots, kiosks etc. We just had a lay off at the DMV, we now have these kiosks to use to renew and register. Tech is coming it seems and its targeting the unskilled. In a way it is globalization which is why we are seeing this all over Europe as well. People fear losing jobs to machines or the "other."
The whole college system is messed up... in decades past, there were plenty of jobs available for those without college degrees. Now, college degrees are a requirement for damn near anything. And of course, colleges are leveraging this advantage by hiking tuition rates, and milking students for all they're worth.

"Free market capitalism" means that if you find a way to sustain production while decreasing headcount - you do it. You can't bemoan the loss of manufacturing jobs unless you're willing to compromise the tenets of the free market.
 
Likes: NightSwimmer
Mar 2012
54,789
36,423
New Hampshire
#5
The whole college system is messed up... in decades past, there were plenty of jobs available for those without college degrees. Now, college degrees are a requirement for damn near anything. And of course, colleges are leveraging this advantage by hiking tuition rates, and milking students for all they're worth.

"Free market capitalism" means that if you find a way to sustain production while decreasing headcount - you do it. You can't bemoan the loss of manufacturing jobs unless you're willing to compromise the tenets of the free market.
Agree but politicians want (possibly need) to try to pander to these voters. There seems to be a growing number of them in certain areas so if you want that vote you must promise something to get the jobs back or a guaranteed basic income. As we see all over the world, this demographic is growing and angry.
 
Mar 2019
196
261
TN
#6
Remember when Trump was on the campaign trail, telling people that "globalization" was the reason that U.S. manufacturing jobs had plummeted in recent decades? Does anyone still believe that nonsense? Automation has cost more manufacturing jobs BY FAR.

And if we had any common sense - we'd be subsidizing research into the robotics field, so we wouldn't be bringing up the rear behind true robotics innovators, like Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Germany.

I think if you looked, you'd find we are further along the robotics road than you might think we are. More than 20 years ago now there was an unauthorized strike at a union manufacturing plant. The short story is the company had made a deal with the union. The company would invest in new tech speeding up the processes, and once a worker had met his or her daily quota, they got to go home with 8 hours pay. The union was supposed to raise the daily quotas over some period of time as the new machines came on line. Flash forward a few years and nearly half the plant was meeting their quotas in just 4 to 6 hours and going home. The union was refusing to raise the daily quotas. So the company said it wouldn't invest any more money in new tech for the plant. That one plant, in spite of the unions objection, chose to go on strike right after the 4th of July holiday. They had a damned rude surprise when they showed up for work the the next week. I decided to pay attention to that particular plant to see what happened to it. Sure enough about 5 years later I toured that plant. It had been repurposed and almost totally automated. Where there has been several hundred people there were now a few dozen. The only people there were A, the techs that kept the robots running, and B, the drones that opened boxes of parts and pieces from outside suppliers and fed them into the machines.

I am, for a variety of reasons, currently looking at a career change and took a look at robotics maintenance as my current skill set would make the transition rather easy for me. Unfortunately the top pay in the field is nearly ten grand less than I currently make.
 
Likes: bajisima

Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
50,526
36,892
Pennsylvania, USA
#7
The question is "How long will voters believe that 'outsourcing' is the primary factor in the loss of manufacturing jobs?"

There's very little that can be done to prevent job loss due to automation.
 
Mar 2012
54,789
36,423
New Hampshire
#8
The question is "How long will voters believe that 'outsourcing' is the primary factor in the loss of manufacturing jobs?"

There's very little that can be done to prevent job loss due to automation.
Prevent I agree, however we can prepare. Kids in elementary school right now should be learning computers and robotics. By high school they should be completely tech savvy. It will be far more important than foreign language skills. Schools need to prepare. Saw videos of German kids in second grade with screw drivers taking apart computers. We need to step up in our preparation, otherwise we are going to have totally unskilled workers looking for jobs in restaurants and stores that will be predominantly automated.
 
Mar 2012
54,789
36,423
New Hampshire
#9
I think if you looked, you'd find we are further along the robotics road than you might think we are. More than 20 years ago now there was an unauthorized strike at a union manufacturing plant. The short story is the company had made a deal with the union. The company would invest in new tech speeding up the processes, and once a worker had met his or her daily quota, they got to go home with 8 hours pay. The union was supposed to raise the daily quotas over some period of time as the new machines came on line. Flash forward a few years and nearly half the plant was meeting their quotas in just 4 to 6 hours and going home. The union was refusing to raise the daily quotas. So the company said it wouldn't invest any more money in new tech for the plant. That one plant, in spite of the unions objection, chose to go on strike right after the 4th of July holiday. They had a damned rude surprise when they showed up for work the the next week. I decided to pay attention to that particular plant to see what happened to it. Sure enough about 5 years later I toured that plant. It had been repurposed and almost totally automated. Where there has been several hundred people there were now a few dozen. The only people there were A, the techs that kept the robots running, and B, the drones that opened boxes of parts and pieces from outside suppliers and fed them into the machines.

I am, for a variety of reasons, currently looking at a career change and took a look at robotics maintenance as my current skill set would make the transition rather easy for me. Unfortunately the top pay in the field is nearly ten grand less than I currently make.
It could be a good idea though, because when we hit another recession, those that can maintain and service robots will be needed. The companies already bought them so when hard times hit, they will rely on them more than humans. We will get laid off because we are expendable. Robots wont be.
 
May 2012
66,579
12,901
By the wall
#10
Technology marches on and that is a good thing.

People always lose jobs when technology advances yet new ones are created.

It balances out in the end.
 

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