Amazon.com’s online sales empire is built on the ability to quickly deliver nearly any product straight to the customer’s door. Increasingly, that speed is driven by automated systems, rather than human labor. In 2012, the company purchased a robotics manufacturer named Kiva Systems for $775 million, and renamed it Amazon Robotics. In 2014, the company began using robots to do some of the merchandise selection and packaging at its warehouses.
By the end of that year, there were 15,000 robots in use at 10 of Amazon’s 50 fulfillment centers. That number had increased to 30,000 robots at 13 fulfillment centers by the third quarter of 2015. “It’s a bit of an investment that has implications for a lot of elements of our cost structure, but we’re happy with Kiva,” said Phil Hardin, Amazon’s director of investor relations. “It has been a great innovation for us, and we think it makes the warehouse jobs better, and we think it makes our warehouses more productive.” FULL REPORT