Amazon.com Inc is rolling out machines to automate a job: boxing up customer orders. That job is held by thousands of workers in various warehouses across the country. 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 has considered installing two machines at dozens of more warehouses, removing at least 24 roles at each one. These facilities typically employ more than 2,000 people.
The plan shows how Amazon is pushing to reduce labor and boost profits as automation of the most common warehouse task – picking up an item. The changes are not finalized because of vetting technology before a major deployment can take a long time.
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 its subsidies and public goodwill.