Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has opened a new intelligent #warehouse in #china to further improve its shipping and delivery process across the world's most populous country. The smart warehouse, operated by #Alibaba logistics subsidiary Cainiao, employs more than a hundred robots equipped with advanced technologies to help warehouse clerks quickly find out items ordered through Alibaba’s e-commerce portal.

The warehouse is located in Huiyang, Guongdong, which is the home to the most mobile robots in China.

Cainiao offers same-day and next-day delivery services in more than 1,000 regions in China, which is the largest market for e-commerce.

Online sales in the country are expected to hit $1.13 trillion in 2017, according to eMarketer.

In a statement, Alibaba said that smart robots improve work efficiency which is seen as a promising growth driver for both logistics and retailers companies.

How robots work in warehouse

The robots at the Alibaba’s smart warehouse can travel 1.5 meters per second and have the ability to carry up to 1,322 pounds. They are slightly larger than ordinary vacuum cleaners.

Once a customer places an order on Alibaba's shopping portal Tmall, the smart robot automatically activates itself and send the shelf containing the items to a warehouse clerk, who sorts through the parcels and later ships the designated item to the shopper.

The robots use Wi-Fi technology to connect to the servers and feature a self-charging system.

They are designed to automatically find their way to a socket for recharging. Once fully charged, the robot can work for eight hours straight.

In addition, the robots are equipped with sensors that prevent them from bumping into one another.

Benefits of using smart machines in warehouse

Alibaba said that the robots are improving work efficiency for its manual workers in the new warehouse.

In a traditional warehouse, a clerk usually needs to sort through 1,500 products during a 7.5-hour shift. The clerk requires 27,924 steps per day to walk around the warehouse, which occupies about 3,000 square meters, the equivalent of 0.7 acres, according to Alibaba.

But, in the smart warehouse, the clerk could sort through 3,000 products in the same shift, thanks to the robotic technology. At the same time, the clerk could require a significantly fewer 2,563 steps per day to walk around the warehouse.

You Yuquan, who a logistics expert at Cainiao, said that the robots could lift and move shelves, making it easier for manual employees to retrieve parcels and improving work efficiency.