Amazon Automating Packaging to Save on Fulfillment Labor

In an effort to reduce its massive distribution and fulfillment costs, Amazon is implementing packaging automation, much as many other retailers have, while a separate program offers up to $10,000 to help set up Amazon employees willing to flip to delivery contractors.

According to Reuters, the company plans to install packaging automation machines at 55 of its U.S. fulfillment centers, eliminating at least 24 positions at each or 1,300-plus in total, but that’s seen as just the beginning. Also, Amazon facilities in the pipeline could be set up with automated packaging, according to consultancy MWPVL International.

A source told Reuters the packaging machines from Italian firm CMC Srl can put out 600 to 700 boxes per hour, four to five times as many as a human packer, manned by three workers.

The article points out how Amazon has downplayed the labor-saving role of automation at its facilities, as millions in state and local government subsidies have been provided based on promises to hire thousands of workers.

In an expansion of its Delivery Service Partner program announced last year, Amazon said today it is offering employees up to $10,000 plus three months’ salary as startup costs to become delivery contractors for, well, Amazon. This initiative will surely help the company meet its new one-day delivery promise for Amazon Prime’s 100 million-plus members.

“We received overwhelming interest from tens of thousands of individuals who applied to be part of the Delivery Service Partner program, including many employees,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations in a release. “We’ve heard from associates that they want to participate in the program but struggled with the transition. Now we have a path for those associates with an appetite for opportunities to own their own businesses.”

You can read the rest of the Reuters story here.

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