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A Look at Amazon’s Robot Strategy, with a Focus On Safety


Company Says Injury Critics are Wrong, but Touts Improvement with Robots in New Report

Sept. 12, 2023


SCDigest Editorial Staff

Amazon is well on its way to a more robotic fulfilment center future, far beyond the thousands of mobile robots it has deployed using the Kiva System technology Amazon acquired in 2012.

The robots are enabling Amazon to change its flows for order fulfillment to customers, with a big focus beyond efficiency to improving worker safety.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

In fact, in July Amazon released for the first time a safety report. In that inaugural study, GeekWire reports, Amazon said claims that its injury rates were significantly higher than the industry were based on misleading calculations.

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For example, Amazon is using a combination of robotic case selecting arms to grab sealed carton off of a conveyor line and place the right mobile robot (called by the name of Pegasus), which when full moves the cases to the shipping area, sending boxes down a chute to be loaded on the right outbound delivery truck.

The use of the robots working in tandem this way has enabled Amazon to do this sorting by delivery truck its fulfillment centers. In its traditional flows, trucks full of parcels were sent by the FCs to what Amazon calls sortation centers for separating the shipments by final delivery location. With the robotics, Amazon can take a whole process and handling step out of the equation, saving hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars every year when the approach is scaled up.

Focus on Safety Too

Tye Brady, the chief technologist for Amazon Robotics, told GeekWire that the idea is to “eliminate the mundane, the repetitive, the tedious,” freeing up humans for higher-level work with less risk of physical wear and tear.

Brady added that “The more that we can pick up objects, sort objects, and put them into boxes automatically, the better it is for everybody involved.”

That after Amazon has faced scrutiny and criticism for years over its alleged poor record on safety, which SCDigest has reported on a number of times. (See

Among other examples, a report by the union coalition Strategic Organizing Center, released in April of this year, asserted that Amazon’s “serious injury rate” was more than double the industry average.

Amazon has repeatedly challenged the analysis or said that some of the data is being taken out of context.

For example, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy responded to a question on safety at the company’s 2022 annual meeting by saying that “Having spent some time with the safety data myself, there are a lot of ways you can spin that data and there are special interest groups that regularly skew them for their own agenda.”


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Still, Amazon’s focus on the safety improvements from use of robots would seem to indicate the accusations are hitting home at least a little bit.

In fact, in July Amazon released for the first time a safety report. In that inaugural study, GeekWire reports, Amazon said claims that its injury rates were significantly higher than the industry were based on misleading calculations from “outside groups with ulterior motives,” and wrongly overlooking data from its peers and counterparts such as Walmart, Target, Costco, UPS, and FedEx.

Amazon added that “sometimes we’re higher, and sometimes we’re lower than other companies, but to paint us as significantly worse than the rest of the industry simply isn’t true.”

However, the company is already touting the safety improvements from use of the robots, citing data that showed that recordable incident rates and lost-time incident rates were 15% and 18% lower, respectively, in 2022 at sites using than they were at its non-robotics operations.

Do you have any thoughts on Amazon's robot strategy? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below (email) or in the Feedback section.




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