I have worked at the fulfillment center for a little over 6 months. During that time I have worked to be trained in as many processes as possible. For me, this includes most inbound processes. I was trained in receiving, stowing into their unique pod system by Kiva, operated their heavy machinery like order pickers, forklifts, ect. I also was a pretty good waterspider (someone who maintains work for Stowers on any given floor). And most recently, I have been a KIVA Amnesty associate. Using a Kindle fire I would control the robots when they malfunctioned due to computer error, crashes or obstructions on the kiva floor. AMA!

Here is the vest that we have to wear to go onto an active KIVA floor. I blacked out the warehouse location code. Sorry about the quality i was trying to do this all on my note and the quality got messed up.


Comments: 114 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

Dent1813 karma

Why is it that when I order something with the expected date in, say, a week, Amazon waits like 5 days to actually ship the item, then once they do, it gets to me in 2 days?

Why not just ship it on day one and increase customer satisfaction and stuff? Cause it seems like shipping speed is a non-factor in cost

Glassman0327 karma

Well because you are waiting a week i assume you do not have Amazon Prime, so once your order is placed, it goes through the process in the warehouse which takes some time from picking the item to getting the item out the door. In the case of prime members, that process is expedited and has priority over yours. I was never told this but I would also assume they wouldn't send your item right away because then what would the incentive be for you to invest in the free 2 day shipping that prime offers.

tavenger59 karma

Thanks for doing this Ama! As a FBA seller I noticed it would take considerably longer for my inventory to be checked in and processed in Q4. This year a lot of inventory is going to non customer shipping distribution centers, like Hazelton, PA that only ship to other fulfillment centers.

Do you know if this is part off a strategy to help with Q4 volume? What else is Amazon doing to compensate for increased volume? (I assume the robots help a lot and they'd like to have them in all fulfillment centers)

Glassman035 karma

Im sure this is a strategy to maximize volume. That way certain warehouses do not need to waste space on work stations and processes unique to distribution and focus more on bulk storage. As we speak, warehouses are adding additional stations which border the outside of the KIVA floors where the KIVA Drives(robots) operate, also more pods are being added to maximize storage within these floors. Pods are four sided shelves that are picked up by the drives and brought to stow/pick stations for products to be added/removed from the floor.

-taco6 karma

Fellow Amazonian here (hebron cvg3) are the kiva robots those little box type picker/stower autonomous robots that run amuck? Ive seen them at cvg5/7 before

Also how much do you hate your life during peak

Glassman032 karma

The KIVA Drives (Robots) are very short yet very heavy robots that have barcode scanners on their roof( where they scan the bottom of the pod they are driving under to make sure they pick up the right pod) and a barcode on the bottom that reads barcodes on the floor (they are arranged in a grid and work as the road map to the floor) This (generally) allows for safe travel of the drives and pods.. generally -_-

Peak for us so far this year has meant 55 hr work weeks which stinks until the paychecks come home. Also, working on the KIVA field means i have to get items that fall out of pods and when the warehouse is stuffing these pods to prepare for the holiday orders, theres a ton of items on the floor. Really frustrating. And all the new workers dont stow correctly. So they will leave items sticking out of pods so when two pods cross with objects sticking out they catch each other and cause a pod crash which we also must fix.

-taco3 karma

Is your amazon the same as mine where they'll literally hire any asshole? I think thats the problem 90% of the time, a lot of real knuckle draggers are in charge of things but they hire anyone because the turnover rate is insane

Glassman033 karma

Yeah for sure, I was hired hours after applying. The goods ones last and the cycle continues to turn out the bad

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Glassman034 karma

Shut it, bruh

motorsizzle5 karma

How accurate was the NY Times article awhile back? Would love to hear some inside perspective on the company culture.

Glassman037 karma

That article focused mostly on corporate I believe so I cant contribute much about that. I will say most of my managers were awesome people, i got paid pretty well @ $14.50/hr, and my only gripe is standing 10+ hours a day.

morneau5024 karma

I am the technical trainer for the Kiva System in Ruskin, Florida - I actually worked a contract directly with Kiva setting the whole system up (during construction) - and then switched to a permanent trainer role with Amazon - I've trained a couple hundred amnesty associates such as yourself - and trained the entire staff at the Baltimore facility - I currently train facilities technicians on actually repairing the robots. I have extensive knowledge on the set up of the system and how it actually all works - the barcodes on the floor are actually called fiducials - and they were all put down by hand! interesting stuff.

My question for you - did you receive training from a facility associate? or a technical trainer such as myself? And what kinds of drive units are at your facility? the R drives? or G drives? or both?

Glassman034 karma

This guy stealing my thunder over here. Haha yeah I didn't think i needed to confuse anyone with fiducials so i just stuck with barcodes. I debated calling them robots through the whole thread as well but changed my mind about that one.

I was trained by a facility Process Guide who did a great job explaining everything and answering our questions.

We have both drives, R drives for stowers and pickers and the G drives which have pallets of one item on them. These are much bulkier. Pickers take items from these drives also but there are a lot less of these floors. Im sure you know this, I'm just explaining for anyone else that reads.

Nice to meet you and awesome job with Kiva

morneau5022 karma

Hey - yeah man! FYI I spoke with a developer with Kiva working on the kindle maintenance manager app - theyre working on a system that automatically lays prohibits down for you to an amnesty/obstruction item, and they'll also be adding a feature which utilizes the kindle's camera plus the floor fiducials in order to pinpoint your location on the floor if you're ever lost

Glassman032 karma

That automatic prohibit sounds really cool, could be buggy though trying not to cut off stations. And we already have the second one! If you think you might be on the live floor you can scan the ficucial on the ground and it'll tell you where you are. If you're out of your prohibit it automatically makes one

JBomm3 karma

Can I come hang out and watch the robots do robot stuff at the Detroit location? Please?

Glassman034 karma

Whats the password?

JBomm1 karma

Pretty please?

Glassman035 karma

damn, okay just come down and knock on the door someone will come get ya

Xombiwulf2 karma

Any knowledge of the delivery-by-drone system that's been tested? If so, do you see it catching on?

Glassman032 karma

If they work out all the kinks i'm sure it'll be pretty cool. However, they just started the Amazon Prime Now feature in some locations like NYC where someone from amazon delivers items within 30 minutes from a small facility focused on quickly getting products out the door so if the drones do take off (pun intended) itll be interesting to see how both these processes work. Maybe delivery for cities and drones for rural areas? Who knows

g2f1g6n12 karma

as an amazon employee: would you eat the flesh of departed friends or family if your plane was downed in the amazon river basin and you were the lone survivor of the crash?

Glassman037 karma

Well everyday during break we eat the remains of those who lost their lives to the robots. So, yes, I don't see this being any different.

iroll20s2 karma

Do you ever program them to do a dance for you? If so, can we have video?

Glassman033 karma

Hahaha, its funny because when a drive bombs out (when the drive hits something or senses a problem it makes a yellow box around it on our screen that protects itself and other drives around it from experiencing the same problem), after we fix it we always say it does a little dance before starting back up. It spins around in a circle for a little bit. Sorry, no phones allowed in the warehouse!

ownworldman1 karma

What is the rationale behind no phones? It is usually for data security but I can't imagine it is an issue for you.

Glassman032 karma

We can go anywhere in the warehouse like any other associate. So data security is the main concern. Also, when amazon sells every phone imaginable, it makes it a whole lot easier to track merchandise. If a phone comes in, that's just one more phone security has to take a close look at when they leave. It just makes it easier with no phones

RIPAnthony231 karma

I've always imagined a team of people frantically finding my package from a warehouse full of disorganized packages. Any truth in this?

Glassman032 karma

In our warehouse, not at all. The computer tells a robot to go get a certain pod that contains your item. The robot brings the pod to a station and the pickers screen tells them the exact location of the item on the pod. They take the item out and put it in a tote and send it on its way. Very organized here

WristHurts1 karma

Has Amazon implemented the 'Uber' driver program yet? Pay normal drivers to deliver Amazon packages.

Glassman032 karma

Amazon has its own drivers for their Prime Now locations

tavenger52 karma

When I get something same day, not prime now, it's a guy in a Chrysler 300 almost every time. I haven't figured out how that works quite yet.

Glassman032 karma

They use their own cars, so it's possible you just order during his shift a lot

Sniperman1 karma

Are you aware of and have any "insider" info of the discounted items of the amazon warehouse section?

Glassman032 karma

I dont have any insider info besides that most product work perfectly fine but have damaged packaging. Any of our warehouse deals are probably worth it. We have to mark a lot of items damaged even if just the packaging is messed up. If I can tell the product works but the packaging is messed up I ask myself, "would I be pissed if I ordered this and the packaging looks like this?" Maybe my standards are high but even scratches and dents make me mark it as damaged. So if the product isn't something you need the packaging perfect for like collector items than ylu should take advantage of these discounts

LivingReaper1 karma

What's your employee discount? Is it actually possible to get something below cost with your discount from Amazon Warehouse?

Glassman031 karma

It's just 10% off

Marc-Eu1 karma

Does Amazon directly employ warehouse workers or does a contracted company handle that?

Glassman032 karma

Amazon directly hired me but there is a temp agency that has a contract with either amazon or our warehouse. Not sure which

gmariogrand1 karma

Amazon ONT2, San bernardino here. 3 years.

Ambassador, pretty much for every function outbound going for Tier 4 positions only, Denied Seasonal PA position when was offered.

Our FC is expected to Pack out 1 million items, for 3 days in a row, 2 weeks in a row and our mezzanine for pack is being watched like a hawk by senior management. 9 Seasonal pa's, 4 area managers and 2 senior ops in total prepared for our peak this 21st.

Our staffing agency is SMX, does your Location use another agency to on-board associates?

Also, I wish you the best of luck during your peak season my fellow coworker, 11 hour shifts, 6 days a week. Its going to be brutal, but our wallet, may the stay FAT into the next year! Peak season.....Peak season is coming....

Glassman034 karma

Amazon hired me directly but we used a temp agency called Integrity to do some of our hiring. Good luck to you too, I feel like I live in westeros at work. People talk about peak seasons like winters they've lived through! Congrats on your success, you seem to be all over the place like me.

my_feedback1 karma

Why wouldn't you want to be a PA? I accepted a full time PA problem solve position and it's awesome.

Glassman032 karma

He said he was going for a tier 4 position. PA is a tier 3 and season PA makes less than a regular PA like yourself. I can't speak for his plan at Amazon besides what he said about tier 4

ABBAholic951 karma

How much is amazon paying you to do this?

Glassman031 karma

This AMA? I wish 4 million dollars. Sadly, the answer is 0. I waited till I left the company before doing this AMA

Mackinstyle1 karma

What's the most annoying part of working with Kiva robots? With an infinite budget, what would you improve?

Glassman031 karma

The most annoying part is knowing every problem we fix is easily avoidable if items are stowed and picked correctly. So days where were constantly on the floor fixing things, it gets frustrating. And I would change the bottom of kiva robots so that nothing small gets under them. A lot of the time an item gets stuck under them, they can't see the floor and go off course or the just run over the object making them go off course. If the bottom was sealed better that wouldn't happen. Also I would develop a pod that made it impossible for items to fall out or stick out. That being said, if we had those things I don't think my job would exist

my_feedback1 karma

Hey, I was a PA in the problem solve for AFE. Why is it that pick always sends us the wrong amount of items? It's insane, it's gotten to the point where I'll just walk over there and pick it myself, while one of my team members watches the CPT. It makes the job so much harder than it needs to be.

Glassman031 karma

I'm not sure why that happens, I wasn't trained in pick. There are plenty of new people right now that seem like they were barely trained though which isn't their fault

just_another_bob1 karma

Great AMA. When I buy the Amazon warehouse deals and they say the item may have 1/4" or something cosmetic damage, are these the items that've been returned? With electronics, are they hooked up to check if they work?

Glassman031 karma

Thank you that means a lot. Im trying to answer everything to the best of my knowledge. I'm not sure what you mean by "1/4" but cosmetic damage is usually from the box being dented from falling off of something or sometimes you'll see scratches from a box getting pushed across the floor from a drive that hasn't detected the obstruction yet. I see that a lot. Most of these products work as advertised. I know that when most objects get damaged, Amazon will ask the product seller if the item is to be destroyed, sent back to them to be fixed, or sold at a discount like the products seen in the Amazon warehouse deals. If a seller doesn't respond to Amazons questions within a certain amount of time, it's Amazons decision and they can do what they want with it. I'm sure they check their electronics otherwise no one would gamble on it. A lot of products bought this way are either returned with cosmetic damage or damaged slightly in the warehouse and they will be repackaged and sold at a discount. Their website describes some of the ways they label their warehouse deal products.


honeybadger19841 karma

I'm on the west coast, and I notice most of my fba shipments are going east, mainly TN and NJ. Any particular reason for this? Wouldn't it be more efficient to ship everything to the west coast for me?

Glassman032 karma

Honestly, im not too familiar with how they move products around the country. I would just guess that depending on the products they will be stored in certain warehouses and some are meant more for storage than others. Also, like my warehouse, many can not store hazardous material.

Sickification1 karma

If you could change anything (processes, robot build, etc) what would you change?

Glassman039 karma

At my warehouse I noticed many pallets of perishable foods, drinks and dog/cat food labeled DESTROY because they had expired. Understandable that we cant sell it but i brought up the idea to managment that we should have a process in place where if its obvious items are going to expire before it can be sold than it should be donated to homeless shelters or animal shelters. They kind of deflected with another community program which was great but didn't address the wasted goods so I'm not sure where that suggestion will go.

dirtyrogue1 karma

Does Amazon only use Kiva or do they have other ASRS?

Glassman033 karma

I'm pretty sure they bought Kiva Systems so I'm sure they use it exclusively

dirtyrogue1 karma

Yeah I do know they own Kiva, I've just seen more permanent solutions that are better and was wondering

Glassman032 karma

Sorry I'm not that informed about the other options, I guess they just invested a lot in Kiva. I'm sure they'll do what they can to make everything perfect with the kiva process.

F0rtuw01 karma

Who is held accountable for any of the Kiva on Kiva collisions or mishaps that occur? Once the pods are loaded and sent off is the previous picker/loaded responsible if something goes wrong in shuttling?

Glassman032 karma

For pod crashes specifically, no but crashes are always caused by something. Almost always caused by an item on the floor or sticking out of a pod which i will remove to stop and future crashes from happening caused by that item. So the crash cant be tracked but those items that are now missing out the bin that it was scanned into can be. When the item is to be removed and it isn't there, it can be traced that Mr. Berry Dingle said he stowed it there and it either fell out or he messed something up in the process of stowing.

SkylerPC1 karma

How much do you hate the holiday season?

Glassman034 karma

Its love/hate i guess. Long hours and shorter weekends equal sore feet and a heavy wallet. The worst is the seasonal workers that stow incorrectly. They cause a lot of problems for us.

orlandodad1 karma

How do you specifically handle a package that has fallen from its pod. I mean someone needs to go into the grid of pods and robots but how do you safely go out into that organized chaos without getting run over to retrieve the downed item?

Glassman033 karma

On the Kindle Fires that we use there is a program that shows us the entire floor in real time. Any drives that go down or any obstructions (products) on the floor are detected by the drives and shown on the kindle. We put down what is known as a prohibit, we basically choose part of the floor that can not be accessed by any drives and any drives already inside this area will stop moving. This creates our safe path. There are many paths the robots move to navigate through these large floors so we use these to create our path to whatever we need to get to. We can also manage drives and tell them to do specific things on the Kindle like go get this pod and bring it to this location. Sometimes there will be vertual/physical mismatches. Where I'm looking at a pod right in front of me but its not in the system. This usually causes a crash because the drive thinks it can use this highway to safely travel but in the physical world there is something it sometimes can't avoid. So in this case we would go and have a drive "inspect" an area. It'll tell us where it is and what pod it is under so that pod that wasn't there virtually is now in the correct place in the system

orlandodad2 karma

Thanks. I was picturing you riding a KIVA into battle. Sadly I was wrong.

Glassman031 karma

I thought about riding a Kiva around on my last day. My robot steed.

Von_Meows0 karma

the one in Wisconsin?

Glassman031 karma


2A_is_the_best_A0 karma

Where's my stuff already??

Glassman032 karma

Probably in a damage container in a warehouse.

Rizzoriginal0 karma

Whats the best way to get into Amazons drone program for employment?

Glassman032 karma

They haven't begun any talk of drones at our warehouse but once they are ready i wouldn't be surprised to see them make some changes to their facilities or just build new facilities. I would leave for my weekend and come back in a few days and see completely new features to the warehouse complete. They know the sooner they get something done, the sooner it'll make them more money. So I pretty much cant answer your question, no talk at our warehouse about it.

nooutlaw4me-1 karma

So you're in New Jersey?

Glassman031 karma


nooutlaw4me1 karma

It was worth a shot!

Glassman031 karma

Haha, yeah why not! what made you guess new jersey?

Athemadman-3 karma

Will Amazon have any specials for black Friday on the Darth Vader showerhead?

Glassman033 karma

I cant speak for any specific items, there are millions of items in the warehouse. Your research would be as good as mine. That being said, i see star wars merch everywhere