Here’s the problem: Sending people through warehouses to retrieve goods consumes a lot of time and resources.
Here’s the solution: Build robots that bring the shelves to the people. That’s what Kiva Systems did. As one of the company’s videos explains, its “robots deliver shelves of inventory to ‘pick’ stations,” where laser scanners and indicator lights assist people in processing orders.
Yesterday, Amazon announced that it is buying Kiva for a cool $775 million. Amazon's Dave Clark, vice president of global customer fulfillment, said, “Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow. Kiva shares our passion for invention, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth.”
The acquisition will help Amazon lower its fulfillment costs, which “as a percentage of revenue rose to more than 9 percent in 2011, from just over 8 percent in 2010,” Reuters reports.
These labor-saving robots are a testament to the power of the human mind. As John Galt says in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged—which Amazon’s Kiva robots will “happily” retrieve for you—“The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time.”
Thank you, Kiva, for improving our lives and inspiring us with your remarkable achievement. And best continued success to Amazon.com, one of the greatest companies on earth.
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Image: Kiva Systems