Amazon Monitron turned fulfillment downtime into business upside

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy shared details on the AWS device for conveyor monitoring.

Amazon Monitron turned fulfillment downtime into business upside

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy posted on LinkedIn about Monitron, which is equipment monitoring technology developed by Amazon that uses machine learning to detect issues in fulfillment centers. Built by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company is also sold to other companies. The post reads:

I recently visited one of our Sort Centers in Colorado where many of our customer packages go before they are sent to an Amazon delivery station or partner facility (like USPS). I saw firsthand how our AWS machine learning-based equipment monitoring service named Amazon Monitron is detecting potential issues with our fulfillment and sort center machinery before they happen.

Since a typical Fulfillment Center has dozens of miles of conveyors being driven by hundreds of motors and belts, keeping them running is super important to delivering reliably for customers. The orange sensors continuously collect temperature and vibration measurements, and send these metrics to the AWS cloud to be analyzed in real time using machine learning modeling that can predict when a part might stop working.

Amazon Monitron alerted the team that one of our induction belts (critical for sorting and moving packages) might fail soon. Our team was able to safely plan a time to look at it and perform predictive maintenance, saving hours of downtime and ensuring customer deliveries were made on time.

We always knew that if we were having these challenges it meant others were as well, which is why the AWS team built Amazon Monitron as a turnkey solution for other companies. So far, Amazon Monitron has reduced unplanned downtime by 70% at Amazon sites where it’s used and gained fast acceptance from industrial customers.

The report illustrates a pair of approaches taken by Amazon that by this point are built into the company's DNA:

Developing in-house: Amazon encountered a problem in its fulfillment. To solve it, the company puts its own talent and technology to work, and got building. The result was a compact orange sensor that drew on the company's cloud capabilities. It's in the area of logistics, which has been the scene of frequent invention for Amazon as it sought to optimize fulfillment and delivery of packages on a vast scale. With businesses like Fulfillment by Amazon and its recently-launched delivery for mall-based stores, Amazon is taking capacity in its network and turning it into a profit center.

A new business line: By creating a device to solve its own problems, Amazon recognized an opportunity to sell the technology. So, it started selling the technology. What had been a challenge that proved costly in downtime became a way to make money from other retailers. It's fitting that this technology came from AWS. After all, the massively profitable division's origin story followed a similar path with Jassy at the helm, albeit on a much larger scale.

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