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Entrance to JD.com's Shanghai warehouse for luxury goods. Photo: Steve LeVine/Axios

Shanghai, China: I am inside a 28-meter-tall, 100,000-square-foot Shanghai warehouse stacked almost to the ceiling with boxes stored one atop the other on 60,000 pallets.

Math question: How many workers are needed to process the 50,000 to 100,000 orders that go out of the building every day?

The answer, says Pujiang Pu, manager of the warehouse, owned by JD.com, the Chinese e-commerce gargantuan: It depends on the size of the box — small, medium or large.

  • Within that answer lies the current state of the robotization of warehouses — robots are equipped to handle mostly small boxes.

This particular warehouse handles only medium-size boxes: That means 12-by-24-inches. It’s increasingly automated but still has the most employees of any warehouse in the park that Pu manages — 500 workers split into two shifts.

  • If an item can fit into a small box, current automation can handle them, so they go to a (mostly) humanless warehouse that JD operates (it does have actually four human robot mechanics).

What's next: This setup is just for now, according to Pu. He says:

  • The company is experimenting with more automation, and will bring in dozens of self-driving forklifts and around 20 mechanical arms by the end of the year.
  • JD owns more than 500 such warehouses around China. Adds company spokesperson Lori Chao, “we would like to upgrade all of them to be personless and let these workers do other things” for the company.

For now, working here is a lifestyle. Pu said on a tour today that more than two-thirds of the workers — including himself — live in dormitory rooms on the site. He’s been doing so for eight years.

We asked why, and he said with a smile, “I like to keep an eye on the operation.”

Go deeper

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

Exclusive: Hundreds of kids held in Border Patrol stations

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo to get to El Paso, Texas. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

More than 700 children who crossed from Mexico into the United States without their parents were in Border Patrol custody as of Sunday, according to an internal Customs and Border Protection document obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The current backup is yet another sign of a brewing crisis for President Biden — and a worsening dilemma for these vulnerable children. Biden is finding it's easier to talk about preventing warehousing kids at the southern border than solving the problem.

Pompeo plots 2024 power play

Mike Pompeo in Washington on Feb. 12. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Mike Pompeo has quickly reentered the political fray, raising money for Republicans, addressing key political gatherings and joining an advocacy group run by Donald Trump's former lawyer.

Why it matters: The former secretary of state is widely considered a potential 2024 presidential contender. His professional moves this week indicate he's working to keep his name in the headlines and bolster a political brand built largely on foreign policies easily contrasted with the Biden White House.

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