Early Cyber Monday, thousands of Amazon workers across the country were busy loading packages and getting ready to send them out the door just as eager consumers were loading up their computers to hit "buy" on the biggest online shopping day of the year.
One especially hopping spot was the Amazon distribution center in Tracy, Calif., where both "associates" and the specialized robots were loading, packing, whirring and shipping at a frenetic pace.
"This is our 20th holiday season," Amazon vice president of global communications Craig Berman said early Monday morning. "We've been making things more efficient each year."
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Added Amazon's Dave Clark, the machines slice a project's time down from 90 minutes down to about 15 minutes.
This year, Amazon's Tracy center began using 3,000 Kiva Systems robots, which Berman said cuts down order-fulfillment time from hours to minutes. A total of 15,000 robots were put in use about six months ago at 10 centers across the country, but this is the first Cyber Monday they've been in use. Amazon bought Kiva Systems for $775 million in 2012.
Berman said the robots weigh 320 pounds and can lift double their weight. Despite their speed and software capabilities, they don't replace human workers.
Amazon hired 80,000 seasonal workers to help with the Christmas rush.