When buying items from an online retailer, have you ever stopped to wonder how your purchase is gathered and packed? After all, some of those warehouses are large enough to house several sports stadiums. It turns out that the answer is more interesting than you might think.
Mick Mountz, CEO and founder of Kiva Systems, has revolutionised e-commerce via the way warehouses pack and ship their inventory. His solution involves robots, mobile shelving and complicated algorithms in place of traditional process/picking workers.
In essence, instead of employees wandering through a gigantic warehouse to fetch each product individually, the products come to them. The mobile shelf robots simply line up and wait for the worker to pull out each product, before making their way back to the warehouse floor.
These warehouse shelves are actually automated robots: you can watch them in action in the video below.
Mick Mountz explained his company's pioneering system at a recent Technology Entertainment and Design (TEDx) conference in Boston. He also gave some interesting insights into the hardships of traditional online retail.
"When you let things start to think and walk and talk on their own, interesting processes and productivities can emerge," Mountz said. (We'll leave the obligatory Skynet references to the comments section below.)
To watch Mountz's speech and see the mobile shelving robots in action, click on the video: