Your Amazon order may be packed by a robot

Interesting Engineering

Amazon is known for its prowess when it comes to automation innovation and they have one of the most refined of logistics processes. Eventually their deliveries will be completely undertaken by robots. For now though, robots are helping in the order department when it comes to fulfilling orders.


[Image Source: Kiva Systems]

In the US there are ten next generation fulfilment centres, along with the Kiva mobile fulfilment system. The Kiva system helps to increase the productivity over other ways of picking by around four times. Normally employees have to go around the warehouse collecting items from shelves to complete orders. This of course can take a great deal of time; the warehouses are huge and items can be scattered around from one end to the other.

The Kiva system takes a different approach as pickers are given a station and this station has been laid out to be easy to use. The order that is shown on the display along with mobile shelves that contain the items are transported to the particular picking station and this is done by autonomous robots. The item on the shelf is located by a laser and the picker just has to scan it and confirm it before then putting it with any other items that should be in the order.

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[Image Source: Kiva Systems]

The robots are low to the ground and this means that they can easily move around underneath the mobile shelving units. They are able to pick up the units from the ground raising them slightly to transport them. The robots connect to a wireless network and they can move around on the floor using floorboards and sensors on the robots allow them to move around obstacles after detecting them. At the moment there are around 15,000 Kiva robots within centres in the US, working alongside pickers.


[Image Source: Kiva Systems]

Along with the Kiva system the 8th gen fulfilment centres also have a Robo-Stow robotic arm and this is able to move around inventory items in large quantities. Vision systems can also unload goods stored in trailers in half an hour and employees have a computer system that has been designed to be used easily.


[Image Source: Kiva Systems]

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