Automation is the name of the game today in the business world. From drones that deliver packages to kiosks that take your fast food orders. With labor becoming more and more expensive and labor unions forming to protect workers, many companies have turned to automation to keep costs down. After all, the point of being in business is to increase profit, right?

Amazon Robotics is one of the leading manufacturers of mobile fulfillment systems. Formerly known as Kiva Systems, Amazon Robotics is a subsidiary company of Amazon.com. Companies such as The Gap, Walgreens, Office Depot and Staples used the automated storage and retrieval systems before their contracts expired and were not renewed. Amazon.com acquired Kiva Systems in 2012 for $775 million and now has over 30,000 bots working in its warehouses.

The concept of warehouse automation works like this-

  • When an order is received into the warehouse database, the software program locates the nearest automated guided vehicle (bot).
  • The bot then navigates to the location of the item requested by using a series of barcodes that are on the floor of the warehouse so that it can determine its own location relative to where the item is.
  • Sensors keep the bots from running into each other or anything else. When the bot reaches the item, it lifts it up and takes it to the specified human operator to continue the process.

It is a pretty straightforward concept that has been gaining popularity in various industries like e-commerce fulfillment, retail restocking, parts distribution and medical device distribution. Amazon Robotics system is a far more efficient and accurate method than having human warehouse workers or conveyor belt systems doing the same job. Amazon.com seems to be leading the way in online retail, warehouse management and automation and delivery systems.

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