Chances are, you’ve heard of Kiva before. But, in case you haven’t, Kiva Systems is a company that builds mobile robotic systems for warehouses.
While the company developed its famous robotic fulfillment system independently and sought to work with a number of businesses to help meet their warehousing needs, they are no longer on their own—Amazon purchased Kiva in 2012, and since then, it seems like Kiva has worked solely for the large online retailer.
However, this has actually been good news for Kiva because it means they have been able to focus on making the Amazon warehouses the best they can be.
How? By building fulfillment robots that create a more efficient, safe and an overall better warehouse system. Amazon has been known for making very smart business moves, and they didn’t spend $775 million dollars to buy Kiva without some serious thought. Here are some of the ways Amazon is using Kiva’s robots in their warehouses.
To Save Money
A large warehouse often needs upwards of 40 or 50 people working each shift in order to get everything done. Some warehouses, especially at places like Amazon, need even more than that to really keep up with orders.
Kiva’s robots can reduce the needed personnel by as much as 80 percent because they do all the work—they fetch the products, compile orders, and then leave the finished box to be double-checked by a person before it’s shipped out.
Yes, people still have to be at the controls and provide some quality assurance, but there’s still a lot of money to be saved here. With more robots, Amazon doesn’t have to pay as many people, worry about covering for sick employees, or even close for the holidays.
To Protect Employees
Some would say that Kiva’s robots are going to put people out of jobs. While it’s true, they will reduce the workforce in the warehouse, they will also make the warehouse a safer environment for those who do need to work there.
No one will have to worry about slipping on loading dock ramps or getting hurt in a forklift accident. Instead, they will move to overseeing the system—people will have to be on hand to make certain the robots gather the right items, to provide repair services if a robot is damaged, and to control the overall system.
To Provide Better Service
While the robots will need maintenance occasionally, when the system is operating at peak performance, there will be very few, if any, errors. That’s because the system keeps track of every single order, and it can even double check everything before a person does to make certain that the order is perfect.
During tests of the Kiva system, people have tried to introduce different variables that would lead to an error, but the system is incredibly good about catching mistakes and correcting them. Human’s make many more errors than the Kiva system and, overall, make for a less efficient system.
Amazon knows they have to get products out quickly and, even more important, those products have to be the right ones. Kiva has made achieving that goal very easy, and it appears Amazon once again knew exactly the right way to spend their money.
What do you think of the Kiva robots? Would you use them or another similar product in your warehouse? Comment below to join the conversation!