Amazon is bringing robots to its Catalan warehouses. On Wednesday the e-commerce giant unveiled the robots that it will use to manage logistics in its new warehouse in El Prat de Llobregat, starting in October. These robots are already operating in the company's Castellbisbal facility. The American company's centers in Catalonia will thus have the most advanced technology from Amazon Robotics, the group's automation division, to help speed up distribution.
This system has two key components: the robots —which Amazon calls “drives”-- are a type of platform that slides underneath the second element, the shelves where the products are placed (called "pods"). The drives can move the pods from one location to another within the warehouse. The robot itself locates the shelf that it is meant to collect and brings it to the area where the orders are fulfilled. This way employees are spared from having to walk around the warehouse and only need to place the products on the pods --or remove them-- so that the device can take them where they are needed.
In total, there will be 3,500 robots in the El Prat warehouse dedicated to organizing up to 50,000 shelves of products in a 100,000 square meter facility. This deployment will be smaller in the Castellbisbal warehouse, which specializes in Amazon’s Pantry service, and has 350 robots and 2,000 shelves in an area of 17,000 square meters. Spain is the third country where Amazon has implemented this system, after Poland and the UK, and for now it will only be available in its El Prat and Castellbisbal centers. The company has stated that it has no current plans to bring the system to its logistics center in San Fernando de Henares.
Apart from this technological commitment, the company will add 600 additional jobs to its logistics center in El Prat, of which 100 will be dedicated to robot maintenance. In total, Amazon will employ 2,100 people in this facility in three years. The Castellbisbal center will add 20 staff to the support team for this robotic technology.
According to Fred Pattje, the company's Operations Director for Spain and Italy, Amazon's new robots will save space in the logistics centers and allow for the storage of 50% more product per square meter in its facilities.