Amazon recently got some complaints when the Verge revealed it utilized a method that automatically defines the productivity rates of its warehouse workforce, and discharges slowpokes if they are too slow to move bundles. It was yet another indication that mechanization was taking over at Amazon and an especially menacing one at that.
Robots in the workforce are proficient mostly at distinct and repeatable tasks for which they are programmed precisely. For the robot to do something else takes costly, time-consuming reprogramming. Moreover, robots which can perform multiple different tasks and function in dynamic environments that require the robot to view and understand its surroundings are still firmly in the domain of research and experimental trials.
“There is a fallacy in the initial understanding of ‘Are we going to become a lights-out fulfillment network in the Upcoming few years'” Anderson told Reuters. “In the current form, the technology is very limited. The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need.”
He explained that technology would not reach to that point for about another 10 years–which, from his standpoint in the technology business, is a reasonably long time. To the 100,000 plus people working in Amazon’s fulfillment facilities, and to the regional markets and social systems which need to deal with such a massive rush of automated-out-of-work workers, it might not seem like such a prolix timeline. If Amazon and its rivals automate their warehouse operations from 10 years, that means around 1 million unskilled jobs gone, with nowhere clear to replace them.
According to Reuters, Amazon has 110 warehouses in the US, 45 sorting facilities, and approximately 50 delivery stations, all of which employ more than 125,000 full-time warehouse workers. However, only a portion of the work operates by robots. Right now, robots are too imprecise and awkward and need an excessive amount of training to be set up on factory floors outside quite rare use cases.
However, warehouse automation is coming, whether it allows for ‘dark’ human-free services in a decade or even not. It is another instance where automation could undoubtedly yield major societal benefits. By all counts, Amazon warehouse work is exhausting, obnoxious, even dangerous labor. In other words, if we are ready to restrain it correctly, And spread the benefits beyond a managerial level that stands to supervise the forthcoming wave of machines. Right now, we’re not.