DUPONT, Wash. — It has actually been in operation since last summer, but Amazon marked the grand opening of its 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center here this morning, an 8th generation facility defined by advanced robotics.
It was a chance to see the company’s latest robotics up close — everything from orange Kiva platforms zipping shelving systems across the floor, to a massive robotic arm that can lift 3,000-pound pallets 24 feet in the air.
Check out the video above to see the robots in action.
Amazon’s operations have become so specialized that this center, about an hour south of its Seattle headquarters, only deals in bigger packages, items “larger than a bread box,” as one executive explained.
It’s a giant place, two stories high and the equivalent of more than 17 football fields.
Packages and bins whiz by on conveyor belts and rollers.The air is filled with the whir of machinery and the beeping of forklift drivers. Walking across the spotless floor, you get the sense that even the smallest of anomalies would be immediately spotted and fixed.
In short, it’s the kind of place a robot would love. But answering questions from reporters about where this is headed, Amazon representatives gave assurances that people will always have a place in these centers.
“The interaction with Amazon robotics and the associates is actually something that the associates very much like,” said Mike Roth, Amazon’s vice president for North American operations, leading a tour of the facility.
“The robots take away the walking,” he said. “The associates don’t have to walk anymore to find products in this very large facility, but rather the product comes to the associate. They can stand there, they wait for the system to tell them which item to take. They take it out of the location, put it into one of these conveyor totes, and then it goes away.
“It makes the life of the associates so much easier, and they love it. It’s the perfect symbiosis.”