Amazon has implemented machines that pack boxes up to five times faster than humans. The new machines, called the Carton Wrap 1000 from Italian firm CMC Machinery, pack about 600 to 700 boxes per hour, which reduces labor costs, increases safety, and shortens delivery times.
This machine is designed to create custom boxes by measuring the ordered goods, folding the cardboard, and cutting the boxes down to size. Then the machine prints the shipping labels to send the package off for delivery.
To compete with the U.S. Postal Service and UPS, Amazon is expanding its delivery network to allow for faster delivery, such as next-day and same-day delivery. The addition of new machines and automated packaging processes intends to quicken the shipping process within the Prime loyalty program, while also focusing on efficiency and cost savings.
In today’s internet age, eCommerce buying is expanding more than ever. Since 2002, desktop retail eCommerce sales have increased by $293.7 billion, illustrating a high demand for improved shipping. The net revenue of Amazon has grown substantially in recent years, about $213 billion in the last ten years, only defending the need for automation in Amazon’s shipping process.
In implementing these machines to 55 warehouses across the U.S., about 1,300 employment cuts could be made nationwide. Instead of eliminating the jobs of many loyal employees, Amazon has decided to offer these employees the option to be repurposed and trained for more technical roles within the company.
Moreover, Amazon will one day start to refrain from hiring more packing employees when there is employee turnover. Today, there is high turnover with packing employees because of the toll their bodies take while doing their job; boxing multiple orders every minute, 10 hours a day, is taxing work that results in a high amount of employee turnover.
Related content: You Shouldn't Be (Totally) Afraid of Automation
These machines are improving efficiencies and output in the packaging process, but finding an automation solution in one area is still beyond reach for Amazon—a robotic hand that can pick up diverse items without breaking them, then putting them on the line to be shipped. This is one of the most basic functions of packing, yet highly important for the warehouse industry. Humans are still essential in the process of shipping items, by putting the various items on the line to be shipped, but it may not be long before this task also becomes automated. Many companies and university researchers are striving to automate this aspect of packaging, but until this innovation is perfected, humans will remain doing this work.
Automated packing is just the beginning of advanced automation in the distribution industry. Though it may seem far off, a fully automated warehouse is becoming a more realistic possibility within the next decade. It will be interesting to see the new automation that is developed in not only the shipping industry, but in our daily lives in upcoming years.
At Rocket Industrial, we strive to help our customers Package with Less—less cost, less time, and less waste. We offer various types of solutions to lessen the time it takes to package your company’s products. Contact our team of packaging specialists to find out where to start.