5 billion parcels delivered by Amazon in 2021, which is more than 13 million parcels per day. This number should be even more massive this year despite the slowdown in online sales that Wall Street did not hesitate to penalize. Third quarter. However, the American giant who plans Dismissal of about 10,000 employees, remains the world leader in e-commerce. A prestige earned by the Jeff Bezos Group thanks to its ability to further reduce delivery times.
Amazon has no choice but to accelerate the pace of innovation, while major retailers (Walmart in the US, Carrefour in France with Google support) have made great strides in their digital transformation – with relative success. Competition with startups has also increased quick tradeWhose dark stores It has grown like mushrooms in major cities of the world, ensuring delivery in just 10 minutes.
If Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, it’s near Boston where the group intends to improve its order processing process. Unsurprisingly, optimization means automation, and so the company created a dedicated robotics arm in 2012, building on the $775 million acquisition of specialist Kiva. 10 years later, 520,000 bots have been deployed in warehouses via an Amazon Robotics subsidiary. 75% of the group’s customer orders now include bots.
BOS27, Robotics Innovation Lab
These bots are the result of the work of 200 employees based on the BOS27 website. No “bond” reference here, but a codename designating the 27th Amazon-built location near Boston. Located in the countryside in Westboro (Massachusetts) to favor potential extensions, this robotics innovation center has acquired another site. The latter, located a few kilometers away, was already too small to respond favorably to Amazon’s ambitions.
In a 32,500 square meter warehouse, Amazon develops, tests and produces robots that will operate in 400 distribution centers around the world. We especially see Hercules robots coming off production lines, able to lift and move shelves full of products seamlessly thanks to artificial intelligence (AI).
Sparrow, the most successful robot
But if this system is really effective at taking 40% of the space in Amazon warehouses, the star of the moment is called Sparrow. It is an articulated arm, whose computer vision and artificial intelligence allow it to detect and pick up products before packaging, using cylindrical tubes, to place them precisely in a cage and thus simplify the preparation of orders. The e-commerce merchant is proud of its new technological gem that is capable of handling millions of products regardless of their size or shape. The noise generated by this device lives up to Amazon’s expectations: very loud!
Sparrow takes it a step further than its predecessors, only being able to move packages across warehouses. Thus, the Robin robot has been deployed for 18 months in distribution centers, while a more advanced version, called Cardinal, is scheduled to appear by the end of the year. The Sparrow is currently being tested in Texas, and is not expected to arrive in warehouses until 2024.
In addition to Sparrow, Amazon relies on Proteus for more liquidity in its distribution centers. It is the group’s first robot capable of moving between employees, unlike other models that navigate a designated area devoid of any human beings to avoid accidents. On the day of our visit to Amazon’s Logistics Innovation Center near Boston, Proteus, which lifts and moves carts full of merchandise, seemed too shy to show off its potential. Regardless, this first autonomous mobile robot opens new horizons for the company, with increased interactions between machines and employees.
One million jobs have been created since 2012
The stakes are high for the group, almost half of work accidents Determined in 2021 in the United States at its logistics centers. However, Amazon has repeatedly reminded us that its top priority is the safety of its employees. Regarding Criticize bots that destroy jobsThe American giant brushed it aside, asserting that the introduction of robots in its facilities has generated more than a million jobs since 2012.
At the same time, 700 new job categories have been created in the company to adapt to the technological development of machinery. Robots have a significant impact on employment. says Ty Brady, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics. The idea is to automate repetitive, low value-added tasks so that employees can focus on more interesting and more creative tasks. Thus, employees become more cooperative and productive, which generates more growth, promotes the emergence of innovations, and thus contributes to the creation of new job categories. Machine and man work together in the same direction. Machines exist to help humans, not to take advantage of them. The human brain is at the heart of our system.”
A new drone to launch Prime Air to the ground
To reach more customers and deliver its packages faster, Amazon also wants to reach a higher level. This is the role assigned to its Prime Air subsidiary, headed by David Carbon. “To deliver a large batch of items in less than an hour, sometimes 30 minutes, at scale, drones are the best option.”he thinks. It is not difficult to deliver a parcel by air.”
However, there is no shortage of drawbacks, between the increasingly saturated airspace, the overly strict regulation or even the capricious weather. In addition to, Bloomberg survey It revealed last April that the development of Prime Air is Far from being a long, calm riverAlthough two billion dollars have been spent since 2013 on the project. Prime Air hopes to take off for good with a new model of drone, the MK30, which was introduced to the press November 10 at BOS27. Smaller and lighter than the previous version (MK27-2), it is able to fly in light rain.
More resistant to weather hazards, the MK30 can also land in smaller gardens, allowing Amazon to reach more customers. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US policeman in the skies, monitoring large-scale drone deliveries is yet to become a reality. It’s still time to test Amazon and its competition.
This does not prevent the giant from nurturing powerful ambitions with Prime Air. Thus, it has set itself the goal of delivering 500 million packages by drone each year by the end of the decade, being able to operate in densely populated areas such as Boston, Atlanta and Seattle. The MK30 should help achieve that goal, but the machine won’t enter service before 2024. In the meantime, Prime Air plans first deliveries with the MK27-2 to Lockeford (California) and College Station (Texas) by the end of 2022.
Last Mile Connected more than ever before to make a difference
So Amazon’s future is partly through the skies, but the Andy Gacy-led group doesn’t forget the part where it shines: the last mile on dry land. To be effective on this strategic e-commerce front, the company can rely on a team of developers, scientists and data engineers to enrich a navigation system capable of automatically generating more than 148,000 routes per day. During the holiday season, that number will rise to 225,000.
To support its providers, Amazon this year launched the Fleet Edge, a device that collects images of streets traveled, which are then scanned with GPS data to create more complete maps, especially with the addition of road signs or other information to improve delivery routes. In fact, having a better knowledge of the environment makes it possible to choose the most suitable means of transport so that the journey is as fast as possible.
Among the modes of transportation used, Amazon is putting a lot of emphasis on the electric vans of new US builder Rivian. Right now, the e-dealer has 1,000 of them delivering in about 100 cities, but it plans to ramp up and have a fleet of 100,000 vehicles by 2030.
Beyondgreen argument, Rivian electric trucks are an opportunity for Amazon to have a complete logistics network, which is more and more inclined to free itself from UPS and FedEx. These vehicles also allow the group to show off its innovative capabilities to its presenters. In fact, Rivian trucks offer a very upscale living space with two screens: one for track viewing and one for using the onboard computer. From there to evoking a true “Tesla Delivery,” there’s only one step Amazon seems willing to take.
In a video shown to the press at BOS27, the delivery woman confirmed that she had an impression of “Driving into the future”to an extent “I feel as though [elle était] in Star Trek”. The comparison is obviously exaggerated, but it confirms the intentions of the online trading juggernaut. Not Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who is striving to get closer to the stars with Blue Origin, who will say otherwise.