Amazon from Above? - Modern Distribution Management

Log In

Amazon from Above?

"Flying warehouse" concept another example of continuous innovation.

As if operating a warehouse on the ground wasn't challenging enough, Amazon has patented the design of an "airborne fulfillment center" – basically, a flying warehouse that can hover high in the air and deliver goods to consumers and businesses below.

The AFC, as it's called, will act as a "launchpad for drones to deliver items within minutes," according to a CNBC article that also includes schematics of the proposed project. The airship or blimp "would float at an altitude of around 45,000 feet" and be "stocked with lots of products."

"When a customer places an order, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fly down (from the airship) and deliver the package," the article says. "Amazon insists that this would require little power because the drone would be gliding down rather than having to take off and land."

The blimp would remain airborne and would be refueled and restocked by shuttles, allowing it to quickly deliver goods. One example of its usage listed in the patent was at a sporting event to deliver merchandise and food straight to a spectator's seat. No more yelling for the beer guy, I suppose.

Amazon was awarded the patent in April, the second from the company involving drones, but details were only unveiled last week of the company's latest stab at disrupting distribution.

It's the second time in two weeks I've written about Amazon's new technologies, even as our readers tell us the company poses less of a threat now than in recent years. But as a new year begins, here's hoping you have resolved to think creatively and come up with new ideas, even if they're not as outlandish as a flying warehouse.

Because who knows what Amazon – or one of your competitors – will think of next? More than likely, 2017 will bring more stories about how companies are innovating and disrupting. Hopefully none of them will ground your business.

Share this article

About the Author
Recommended Reading
Leave a Reply

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for the MDM Update Newsletter

The MDM update newsletter is your best source for news and trends in the wholesale distribution industry.

Get the MDM Update Newsletter

Wholesale distribution news and trends delivered right to your inbox.

Sign-up for our free newsletter and get:

  • Up-to-date news in a quick-to-read format
  • Free access to webcasts, podcasts and live events
  • Exclusive whitepapers, research and reports
  • And more!


articles left

Want more Premium content from MDM?

Subscribe today and get:

  • New issues twice each month
  • Unlimited access to, including 10+ years of archived data
  • Current trends analysis, market data and economic updates
  • Discounts on select store products and events

Subscribe to continue reading

MDM Premium Subscribers get:

  • Unlimited access to
  • 1 year digital subscription, with new issues twice a month
  • Trends analysis, market data and quarterly economic updates
  • Deals on select store products and events



You have one free article remaining

Subscribe to MDM Premium to get unlimited access. Your subscription includes:

  • Two new issues a month
  • Access to 10+ years of archived data on
  • Quarterly economic updates, trends analysis and market data
  • Store and event discounts

To continue reading, you must be an MDM Premium subscriber.

Join other distribution executives who use MDM Premium to optimize their business. Our insights and analysis help you enter the right new markets, turbocharge your sales and marketing efforts, identify business partners that help you scale, and stay ahead of your competitors.

Register for full access

By providing your email, you agree to receive announcements from us and our partners for our newsletter, events, surveys, and partner resources per MDM Terms & Conditions. You can withdraw consent at any time.

Learn More about Custom Reports

Request a Market Prospector Demo

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.