Amazon recently introduced a robotic fulfillment system called Sequoia, aimed at expediting deliveries ahead of the holiday shopping season. The system is capable of identifying and storing inventory up to 75% faster than the current system, ultimately reducing processing time by as much as 25%, according to Amazon. In addition to improving efficiency, the implementation of this new robotic system is expected to help mitigate the risk of employee injuries.
Sequoia is currently operational at one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Houston and is specifically designed to increase the availability of goods for Same-Day or Next-Day shipping. By streamlining the process and reducing the physical strain on employees, the system aims to enhance productivity while minimizing the chance of work-related injuries. This move comes as a response to concerns regarding worker safety, as data from the union coalition Strategic Organizing Center indicates that Amazon experienced 6.6 serious injuries per 100 workers in 2022, compared to non-Amazon warehouses which reported 3.2 serious injuries per 100 workers.
Furthermore, Amazon is planning to test another robot named Digit, which employs bipedal locomotion and can grasp items located in hard-to-reach corners of warehouses. Initially, Digit will assist employees with tote recycling—a repetitive task involving the collection and movement of empty totes after inventory has been removed.
While Amazon did not address whether the introduction of these new technologies would lead to job layoffs, the company emphasized that the deployment of robotic systems over the past decade has created hundreds of thousands of jobs that were previously nonexistent.
On Wednesday, Amazon’s stock experienced a decline of over 2% during afternoon trading.