Inside Amazon’s Warehouses

By Jason Fitzpatrick on November 30th, 2012

If you’re expecting the inside of Amazon’s warehouses to be some sort of rigidly organized robot-filled warehouse of tomorrow, you’ll be quite surprised to find that storage technique they employ is called “chaotic storage”.

International Business Times paid a visit to a major Amazon warehouse and took a tour. Rather than finding robots they found:

Amazon must rely on barcodes and human hands to find the ordered items and drop them into the proper bins — without robots, Amazon utilizes a system known as “chaotic storage,” where products are essentially shelved at random.

By storing items randomly instead of categorically, the warehouse has a much better flow of material. Even without robots or automation, Amazon can compile a “picking list” where each item needs to be taken off the shelf and scanned again before it can be shipped.

The real advantage to chaotic storage is that it’s significantly more flexible than conventional storage systems. If there are big changes in a product range, the company doesn’t need to plan for more space, because the products or their sales volumes don’t need to be known or planned in advance if they’re simply being stored at random.

The next time your boss makes a comment about your messy office, just tell him you’re taking a cue from Amazon’s organic storage techniques.

Inside An Amazon Warehouse [International Business Times]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/30/12
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