Amazon rolls out robots that pack orders and replace jobs

Dec 2018
3,327
1,850
the Heart of America
#41
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
Smart business decision.

Same thing happened back in the 1970s with the automotive industry when the UAW wanted wages that exceeded the costs of automation. Same thing will happen with the fast food industry.
 
Feb 2011
16,523
5,779
Boise, ID
#42
Make work would be one way to go. It would at least keep idle hands busy. Work that actually does need to be done would be a lot better. Let's put crews to work clearing brush before the big wildfires wipe everything out. Let's repair levies before the flood. There are no doubt lots of students struggling with everything from learning to read to mastering quadratic equations. They could use tutors. How many unsafe bridges do we have that should be replaced? What about removal of invasive species that threaten fragile ecosystems? That's real work that needs to be done, but not work that will yield an immediate profit.
I'd be open to discussing that, but that's totally a matter of putting public dollars to work and doesn't have anything to do with complaining about for-profit public corporations like Amazon. I would recommend anyone who wants to seriously explore your ideas stop bitching about retailers that compete with one another on cost to the masses. That is totally futile. We'll never make Amazon and Walmart employ the masses all at median salaries, so let's stop bitching about them.

Or, we could just take the approach that, if people don't have enough to do and can't earn a living, then that's their problem. Just cancel the safety net programs and let them sink or swim. If enough of them sink, then there will be jobs for those who are left.
I'm not touting free market fundamentalism.
 
Feb 2011
16,445
10,834
The formerly great golden state
#43
I'd be open to discussing that, but that's totally a matter of putting public dollars to work and doesn't have anything to do with complaining about for-profit public corporations like Amazon. I would recommend anyone who wants to seriously explore your ideas stop bitching about retailers that compete with one another on cost to the masses. That is totally futile. We'll never make Amazon and Walmart employ the masses all at median salaries, so let's stop bitching about them.



I'm not touting free market fundamentalism.
No, it doesn't have anything to do with "bitching" about what Amazon or any other private company is doing. It has to do with dealing with the inevitable technological changes that are coming.

"Free market fundamentalism" is an option. I agree that it's not the best option, but, absent an effort to do something else, it's the default option.
 
Likes: NightSwimmer
Sep 2011
24,980
17,423
aMEEErica
#44
Make work would be one way to go. It would at least keep idle hands busy. Work that actually does need to be done would be a lot better. Let's put crews to work clearing brush before the big wildfires wipe everything out. Let's repair levies before the flood. There are no doubt lots of students struggling with everything from learning to read to mastering quadratic equations. They could use tutors. How many unsafe bridges do we have that should be replaced? What about removal of invasive species that threaten fragile ecosystems? That's real work that needs to be done, but not work that will yield an immediate profit.

Or, we could just take the approach that, if people don't have enough to do and can't earn a living, then that's their problem. Just cancel the safety net programs and let them sink or swim. If enough of them sink, then there will be jobs for those who are left.
I absolutely do not agree with "make work" "projects."

100% absolute failure, and they are not "bamboozling" the disabled into thinking broom making is a "career" with a future.

How many "demands" were created, out of thin air by the "PC revolution," how many jobs sprang off of that?

Get ready folks, there will be a new wave of economic prosperity and industrial demand, (let's hope we don't "default" all of it to China!) but as we had the "PC revolution," personal computer revolution... there will be the "PR revolution," the personal robot revolution, "apps" and markets and "demands" no one anticipated...

People used to stay home and read books or just watch the fireplace before the advent of radio, movies and television...

Often, "absolute necessities" spring up out of nowhere, it is, as ever, demand that keeps economies afloat!

Thx :)
 
Last edited:
May 2019
431
432
A Van Down by the River...
#45
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."
I recently went to Walmart which is closest to me but I rarely shop there b/c I even hate parking there let alone navigating the parade of oxygen tanks/Rascals once inside. When I was wandering looking for a checkout I couldn't find any aisle staffed with a human. Now I didn't get all the way to the end, but it seemed none existed so I gave up and scanned my own items.

Now this isn't particularly taxing but I did wonder as I was wrangling with a 38lb bag of chow, "why am I not getting a rebate for doing their job?"
First they came for my bags, then left me holding one.

I'm not big on change, so maybe I'm in the minority in hating this system, fair enough. Still, shouldn't prices drop significantly if the consumer is facilitating the cuts to their labor costs?
 
Feb 2011
16,445
10,834
The formerly great golden state
#46
I recently went to Walmart which is closest to me but I rarely shop there b/c I even hate parking there let alone navigating the parade of oxygen tanks/Rascals once inside. When I was wandering looking for a checkout I couldn't find any aisle staffed with a human. Now I didn't get all the way to the end, but it seemed none existed so I gave up and scanned my own items.

Now this isn't particularly taxing but I did wonder as I was wrangling with a 38lb bag of chow, "why am I not getting a rebate for doing their job?"
First they came for my bags, then left me holding one.

I'm not big on change, so maybe I'm in the minority in hating this system, fair enough. Still, shouldn't prices drop significantly if the consumer is facilitating the cuts to their labor costs?
I've experienced those self check outs as well. One thing that occurred to me was that it would be very easy just to slip something in the bottom of the bag without actually scanning it. I'm sure that petty thieves have figured that out as well.

It may be that the increase in theft offsets the savings in wages, but I have no way of calculating that.
 
Likes: DairyHeiress
Sep 2011
24,980
17,423
aMEEErica
#47
I recently went to Walmart which is closest to me but I rarely shop there b/c I even hate parking there let alone navigating the parade of oxygen tanks/Rascals once inside. When I was wandering looking for a checkout I couldn't find any aisle staffed with a human. Now I didn't get all the way to the end, but it seemed none existed so I gave up and scanned my own items.

Now this isn't particularly taxing but I did wonder as I was wrangling with a 38lb bag of chow, "why am I not getting a rebate for doing their job?"
First they came for my bags, then left me holding one.

I'm not big on change, so maybe I'm in the minority in hating this system, fair enough. Still, shouldn't prices drop significantly if the consumer is facilitating the cuts to their labor costs?
It does... but it facilitates greed as well.

Should they pay you a few cents for bagging your own groceries, or offer reduced prices for reduced overhead?

"Six of one, half dozen of the other?"

Besides... grocery stores are going the way of "retail." (extinct.)

But I agree in many ways with your post, I liked it like it was, where I walk into a store and pick out the item, pay cash and walk out with it in hand!

I am starting to beat that "system" though, I'm growing produce in my own living room, no "overhead" or "marketing" or briskly edited TV ads...

Thx :)
 
Likes: DairyHeiress
May 2019
431
432
A Van Down by the River...
#48
I've experienced those self check outs as well. One thing that occurred to me was that it would be very easy just to slip something in the bottom of the bag without actually scanning it. I'm sure that petty thieves have figured that out as well.

It may be that the increase in theft offsets the savings in wages, but I have no way of calculating that.
I read an article about this a while back. It did say there was rampant thievery by customers at self-checkouts and with surprisingly low guilt (maybe b/c they're doing unpaid labor!).

However in this case at Walmart there's a monitor at the exit to audit your receipt-- like they do at Costco.
 
Oct 2014
30,444
5,319
C-A-N-A-D-A-Eh
#49
I recently went to Walmart which is closest to me but I rarely shop there b/c I even hate parking there let alone navigating the parade of oxygen tanks/Rascals once inside. When I was wandering looking for a checkout I couldn't find any aisle staffed with a human. Now I didn't get all the way to the end, but it seemed none existed so I gave up and scanned my own items.

Now this isn't particularly taxing but I did wonder as I was wrangling with a 38lb bag of chow, "why am I not getting a rebate for doing their job?"
First they came for my bags, then left me holding one.

I'm not big on change, so maybe I'm in the minority in hating this system, fair enough. Still, shouldn't prices drop significantly if the consumer is facilitating the cuts to their labor costs?
To what you were quoting; university enrolment is down, because, unless a person has the intention of going into STEM fields, there simply isn't the value. Why pay 50k for a degree to obtain the same skills you can get with a YouTube tutorial and some practice?

To your point; as a matter of profits, they feel that it is just a bonus to profits.

The entire mentality will have to shift. Or it will be an economy of mass production that makes products that can only be afforded by a tiny fragment...

You do raise an interesting point, if someone has an accident in line, to file for workers comp as you were acting as an employee. That would fuck their system.

On the flip side, I do expect a segment will start looking for more authenticity and human touch might make a comeback.
 
Sep 2011
24,980
17,423
aMEEErica
#50
To what you were quoting; university enrolment is down, because, unless a person has the intention of going into STEM fields, there simply isn't the value. Why pay 50k for a degree to obtain the same skills you can get with a YouTube tutorial and some practice?

To your point; as a matter of profits, they feel that it is just a bonus to profits.

The entire mentality will have to shift. Or it will be an economy of mass production that makes products that can only be afforded by a tiny fragment...

You do raise an interesting point, if someone has an accident in line, to file for workers comp as you were acting as an employee. That would fuck their system.

On the flip side, I do expect a segment will start looking for more authenticity and human touch might make a comeback.
"The entire mentality will have to shift. Or it will be an economy of mass production that makes products that can only be afforded by a tiny fragment..."

No... not at all...

On what do these companies depend on for their profits... you and I.

They cannot make "products" without someone with the means to buy them... Henry Ford proved this out.

So, they can only keep us so broke before it eats into them too...

"Disposable income," that's what makes the economy turn, if too few have it, then those companies go directly out of business.

No... those thinking "it will all crash down by morning now" must join the ranks of people who have been saying that for more than 150 years... :)

Thx :)
 

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