[WATCH] Chinese firm hires robot-army to cut labour costs
05:24 PM, April 20, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:37 PM, April 20, 2017

[WATCH] Chinese firm hires robot-army to cut labour costs

A video showing an army of little orange robots operating in the warehouse of a firm in eastern China has gone viral recently.

The robots were seen in the video sorting out packages and carrying them from one part of the warehouse to another. This is, by far, the latest example of how machines are increasingly taking over manual factory work on the mainland China, reports Business Insider.

Dozens of orange Hikvision robots, each the size of a seat cushion, were seen in the behind-the-scenes footage swiveling across the floor at a sorting centre of Chinese delivery powerhouse Shentong (STO) Express in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

The video was published in the social media account of People’s Daily, China, on Sunday, April 9, 2017, and has since then garnered 7.6 million views and over 90 thousand shares.

In the video, a worker was seen feeding each robot with a package before those carried the parcels away to different areas around the sorting centre, then flipping their lids to deposit them into chutes beneath the floor, identifying the destination by scanning a code on the parcel, minimising sorting mistakes. 

The machines can operate around the clock being self-charging, and can sort up to 200,000 packages a day.

The robots had helped the company save half the costs it typically required if it hired human workers only, improved efficiency by 30 percent, and maximised sorting accuracy, an STO Express spokesperson told South China Morning Post.

“We use these robots in two of our centres in Hangzhou right now,” the spokesman said, adding “We want to start using these across the country, especially in our bigger centres.”

Although the machines could run around the clock, they were used only for about six or seven hours at present, each time from 6:00pm, he said.

Manufacturers across China have been increasingly replacing human workers with machines in the recent times, and the output of industrial robots in the country grew by 30.4 percent last year.

The central government set a target aiming for annual production of these robots to reach 100,000 by 2020 in china’s latest five-year plan.

Apple’s supplier Foxconn last year replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots, said a Chinese government official in Kunshan, eastern Jiangsu province, reports Business Insider.

The Taiwanese smartphone maker has several factories across China.

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