By Laura Stevens
Updated Nov. 28, 2016 9:12 a.m. ET
|Photo: Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images|
To prepare for the holidays, Amazon is using technology, like touch screens and robots to quicken the time it takes to train new hires. Unlike other warehouses who typically spend their first days in classrooms training. Amazon trainees get hands-on training as early as their first day on the job, which has proven to be a big advantage in getting them up to speed. This has diminished the time it takes to train new hires to as little as two days, compared to six weeks. This shorter training period saves Amazon money, and could give the company room to offer higher wages as it adds 120,000 temporary workers to its warehouses in the months of November and December. These workers can stay on from six weeks to three months into the New Year to drive forklifts, pick orders or deliver boxes.
Orange, pallet sized robots that move faster than humans carry shelves full of merchandise to stations where workers can reach them, and screens show workers what the item looks like and where it can be found. On the warehouse floor, they learn how to pack up shipments, coached by a screen that tells them which box size to use and automatically prints a piece of tape to fit it. Amazon is also planning to increase the number of full-time staff it employs. It kept about 14 percent of its seasonal hires last year. This year alone, Amazon has built 26 new warehouses, bringing its world-wide total to 149. Small differences can make a big difference in a warehouse's efficiency. It also helps that Amazon's warehouses are fairly uniform, the company can introduce the same training programs across its buildings and multiply any efficiency gains.