In what is being considered as the latest example of how machines are increasingly taking over menial factory work on the mainland China, a video showing an army of little orange robots sorting out packages in a warehouse in eastern China has gone viral on social media.
Shared on People’s Daily‘s social media accounts on Sunday was the behind-the-scenes footage of the self-charging robot army in a sorting centre of Chinese delivery powerhouse Shentong (STO) Express.
Swivelling across the floor of the large warehouse in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province were dozens of round orange Hikvision robots – each the size of a seat cushion – this was shown in the viral video.
The machines were seen to be flipping the lids of packages to deposit them into chutes beneath the floor after the machines carried the parcels away to different areas around the sorting centre after a worker was seen feeding each robot with a package.
According to the video, the robots are minimizing any potential human mistakes because they were seen scanning a code on the parcel to identify the destination of each package before putting the packages at their rightful place.
The machines are self-charging, meaning they can operate around the clock and this enhances the overall output of the company and reports say that the machines are able to sort up to 200,000 packages a day.
The robots had helped the company save half the costs it typically required to use human workers, an STO Express spokesman told the South China Morning Post on Monday.
He said that the sorting accuracy of the unit has been maximized and the overall efficiency has been enhanced by around 30 per by the application and use of the robots.
“We use these robots in two of our centres in Hangzhou right now,” the spokesman said. “We want to start using these across the country, especially in our bigger centres.”
He said that the robots were presently used only for about six or seven hours each time from 6pm even though the machines could run around the clock.
Human workers have been increasingly replaced by machines by manufacturers across China.
Last year, there was a growth of 30.4 per cent in the total output of industrial robots in the country.
With an aim for annual production of these robots to reach 100,000 by 2020, the central government set a target in the country’s latest five-year plan.
According to a Chinese government official in Kunshan, eastern Jiangsu province, Apple’s supplier Foxconn last year replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots.
The Taiwanese smartphone maker has several factories across China.
(Adapted from CNBC)