Warehouse replaces human workers with 'little orange' robots

Warehouse replaces human workers with 'little orange' robots

A video recording from an Eastern Chinese warehouse, depicting package-sorting robots, will do little to allay worker’s fears that low-skilled jobs are at risk of automation.


The orange Hikvision bots can be seen sorting packages in a Shentong (STO) Express warehouse in Hangzhou, taking parcels from human workers and depositing them in specific chutes.

The central Chinese Government plans to start producing 100,000 of these robots by 2020.

According to the video, the machines can sort 200,000 packages a day and minimise sorting mistakes by scanning a barcode on every piece of post.

Speaking to the South China Morning Post, an STO Express spokesman said the robots saved the company 50% of the costs and increased efficiency by 30%.

He said: “We use these robots in two of our centres in Hangzhou right now. We want to start using these across the country, especially in our bigger centres.”

As the output of industrial robots in the country grew 30.4% last year, blue collar workers in China can be forgiven for fearing for their job.

In February, it was widely reported that one mobile phone factory in Dongguan, China had replaced 90% of its human workers with robots.

Lui Weiqiang, General Manager of the Changying Precision Technology factory, claimed that getting rid of human workers ensured better quality products and less mistakes.

German sportswear manufacturer Adidas also revealed plans to move production back to Germany from China.

The popular brand will start using machines, instead of low-waged workers, to make its trainers.

Likewise, last year, Apple’s supplier Foxconn replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots.

Although British workers might not initially be worried that the same may happen over here, a recent University of Oxford study, overseen by Dr Carl Benedikt Frey and Associate Professor Michael Osborne, listed jobs, aside from factory work, that they believe are at risk from automation.

These include watch repairers, retail salespeople, butchers, cooks, cashiers, loan officers as well as accountants, oil technicians and casino dealers.

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