Thousands of jobs at risk as Amazon plans to roll out automated packing machines

Amazon is set to launch new automated packing machines across its supply chain, potentially leading to over 1000 job cuts.

According to Reuters, the tech giant is planning to install two $1 million packing machines across dozens of its warehouses, after successful trials in a handful of warehouses over the past few years.

The machines are reportedly able to pack items in seconds, scanning goods coming down a conveyor belt and placing them into boxes custom made for each item.

READ MORE: Amazon says fully robotic warehouses at least 10 years away

Amazon has 55 fulfilment centres in the US and 40 across Europe, including 17 in the UK, with around 24 members of staff at each responsible for packing customer orders.

If Amazon were to roll the technology out across its entire US estate, 1320 jobs would be at risk, alongside another 400 in the UK.

The retailer said it could recover the costs of installing the machines within two years.

Its new machines, created by Italian firm CMC Srl, require just three technicians to operate it, and can pack around five times faster than a human counterpart.

“We are piloting this new technology with the goal of increasing safety, speeding up delivery times and adding efficiency across our network,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement.

“We expect the efficiency savings will be re-invested in new services for customers, where new jobs will continue to be created.”

This comes as Amazon walks a tightrope between increasing automation to reduce costs and increase efficiency in its supply chain, and keeping workers rights organisations happy amid an increasing backlash against automation and working conditions.

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