Global shipping company Shentong Express (a/k/a STO) is China's answer to UPS. To increase efficiency—and cut human staff—they've designed this rather amazing facility consisting of a huge open floor punctuated by a grid of square holes that open onto chutes. Human beings pull parcels off of a conveyor belt and place them on the robots, which then do most of the work. Check out the traffic:
China's People's Daily states that "The company estimates its robotic sorting system is saving around 70-percent of the costs a human-based sorting line would require," while the South China Morning Post reports that "An STO Express spokesman [says] that the robots had helped the company save half the costs it typically required to use human workers."
The savings is massive no matter which figure is correct, and this will certainly lead to less human employment for STO. "We use these robots in two of our centres in Hangzhou right now," said the STO spokesman. "We want to start using these across the country, especially in our bigger centres."
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Very smart design on the flat floor with holes and simple flips. But I don't buy the 70% saving claim.
Compared to USPS it probably even higher!
I could watch them for hours! I love how they simply 'flip their lid' to drop the packages through the openings. I imagine different holes go to different areas?