Amazon has started utilizing robots to be able to send ordered items to customers much faster.
The orange, 320-pound robots, given the name Kiva, total over 15,000 units across all of Amazon's operations. They resemble huge Roombas, but are able to lift items as heavy as 750 pounds.
Kiva robots lift the shelves containing products off the ground then quickly delivers the items to employees waiting in stations, significantly reducing the time that it takes for employees to search for items and place them into boxes for delivery.
Amazon acquired Kiva, a robot manufacturing company, back in 2012 for $775 million. Since then, Amazon has been expanding the usage of robots for automation at its massive fulfillment centers.
On the eve of Cyber Monday, Amazon unveiled its Tracy, California warehouse to the public for the first time. The warehouse utilizes Amazon's latest "eighth-generation" fulfillment center technology, which includes 3,000 Kiva robots.
Kiva robots were put to the test, as Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping events for the entire year. Guided by sensors placed in the floor of the warehouse, the robots moved around with unparalleled precision.
On peak days such as Cyber Monday, the Tracy warehouse processes and delivers 700,000 orders. However, that is no problem with the Kiva robots.
"We pick two to three times faster than we used to," said 34-year-old Rejinaldo Rosales, an employee at Amazon's Tracy warehouse.
Rosales used to walk through miles of aisles to "pick" the items that customers ordered, to prepare the products for shipping.
"It's made the job a lot easier," Rosales said, who now no longer has to walk through the aisles as he now only needs to sort the merchandise that the Kiva robots retrieved into bins.
According to Dave Clark, the senior vice president of worldwide operations and customer service for Amazon, warehouses with Kiva robots do not any more require wide aisles for employees to walk through. As such, these eighth-generation Amazon warehouses, of which there are ten, are capable of holding 50 percent more items compared to older facilities.
Clark added that, with the usage of the Kiva robots, order processing time has been significantly reduced from over an hour to as fast as 13 minutes.
However, Clark clarified that even with the increased levels of automation within the company; there has been no reduction in staffing levels due to the rapid growth of Amazon.
Future plans for Amazon include the vision of CEO Jeff Bezos to someday be able to deliver Amazon orders entirely through drones, though that technology may not be ready any time soon.