Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Andrew S. Ross has been over into the distribution center in Northern California of Amazon.com;
...the first thing I saw were hundreds of plastic yellow baskets whizzing by on rollers at breathtaking speed. The second was the length and breadth these baskets traverse — equivalent in size to 27 football fields....
...its 4,000 Tracy [CA] employees manage to ship out up to 700,000 packages a day to customers in Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest and control an inventory of 21 million items. I also met the star of the show — a 370-pound orange robot, Kiva 8, recruited to do all that, quickly.
Actually, 3,000 such robots;
Thanks to the robot, “eighth generation” fulfillment centers like Tracy’s can also hold up to 50 percent more in inventory and get it out the door faster — “driving efficiency through the supply chain,” says Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations.
Meaning, Amazon is well aware of how right-now delivery is becoming the new normal, and that others are joining the race.
Amazon is driven to efficiency by the competition. Any monopoly theorists out there to argue otherwise?
As an oft-times critic of Amazon who has cheered for the smaller players like Instacart in the same-day delivery business, I came away from the Tracy tour impressed. To my non-techie eye, pulling all the bits of hardware, software and people together in an incredibly complex operation that runs virtually seamlessly and on such a scale is a pretty amazing achievement.
People and robots working together and making customers happy? Sounds like science fiction.
Maybe it's science fiction to a San Francisco Chronicle writer, Andrew, but to us it's elementary economics.

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