Amazon, which has been adding automation to its shipping and delivery services, is mulling deploying packaging machines at warehouses, which would scan packages as they come off the conveyor belt and place them in custom boxes. Citing two people who worked on the project, Reuters reported on Monday (May 13) that the technology is installed at some of its warehouses.
Dubbed the CartonWrap, the machines hail from CMC Srl, an Italian company. They can pack 600 to 700 boxes an hour, which is four to five times faster than humans. Running the machines requires one person to load the customer orders, another to stock cardboard and glue and a third technician to handle any jams.
The eCommerce giant is now considering installing two of these machines at dozens more warehouses, which could result in 24 lost jobs at each warehouse, reported Reuters. If the machines were rolled out in 55 of Amazon's warehouses in the U.S., that would eliminate 1,300 jobs. People with knowledge of the plans told the newswire that Amazon would recoup the costs of the machines – each of which costs $1 million. – in less than one year.
The plan isn't finalized yet, as Amazon continues to ensure that the technology works before deploying it on a larger scale. The move is part of the company’s efforts to cut costs associated with labor and to rely more on automation to increase profits.
“We are piloting this new technology with the goal of increasing safety, speeding up delivery times and adding efficiency across our network,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement. “We expect the efficiency savings will be reinvested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created.”
Sources told Reuters that Amazon isn’t looking to reduce its labor costs by layoffs, but rather is aiming to become leaner through attrition. The idea is to eventually stop refilling vacated packaging jobs, which tend to have high turnover and take their toll on workers. Amazon employees who stay with the company will be trained for other roles, per the report.