By Carly Szabo
Traveling northeast down Old York Road in Robbinsville, a set of large warehouse buildings dominate the landscape at the intersection of Montgomery Way. One of those buildings dwarfs the others, a half-mile-long monstrosity.
Inside, robots whir to life and employees race back and forth, trying to keep up with the thousands of times customers somewhere else click—or tap—the “buy” button.
This giant warehouse is home to a Amazon Fulfillment Center, reportedly the busiest facility the massive online retailer has in the world. The 1.2-million-square-foot center celebrated its grand opening on June 19, opening its doors to dignitaries and media members to mark the completion of construction at the facility. The Robbinsville facility started processing orders in July 2014.
Present at the ceremony were New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried. Amazon Director of Operations Tim Hall led the opening ceremony.
“It’s a great day for Robbinsville,” Fried said. “There are thousands of people who are now employed thanks to the leadership of the Christie Administration who was responsible for convincing Amazon to come to New Jersey.” The mayor went on to thank Hughes for his help in establishing the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville and for the transportation that is now provided for Amazon employees to get to and from the Fulfillment Center on a daily basis.
The Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville is an eighth generation center, which employs over 2,500 people and is equipped with robotics to ensure more efficient order processing and delivery. With Amazon robotics, the facility is able to store 50 percent more inventory, Hall said. In cubic square feet, that is equal to 59 football fields full of product.
While the Robbinsville facility surprisingly is far from the biggest in Amazon history, it is one of the more efficient facilities thanks to Amazon robotics.
Within the facility is more than 14 miles of conveyor belts carrying products to their destinations at a rate of hundreds of feet per minute. Products are placed randomly throughout the warehouse on shelves with barcodes. The barcodes are scanned along with the products in order to tell workers which products are placed where.
“You never know what item a customer will order,” Hall said. “That’s why we stow the items randomly.”
Shelves are carried by Amazon robots that weigh 320 pounds and can lift up to 750 pounds.
Thousands of orders are filled each day at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Robbinsville, and millions of products are stored there. Amazon carefully counts each product that is held in the center, and tracks inventory so customers never place an order that cannot be filled.
In order to ensure there is no wasted space, Amazon also makes its box selection based on the size of the item to be shipped. To celebrate the release of Dreamwork’s animated movie “Minions,” Amazon has been packaging shipments in boxes plastered with the titular yellow creatures.
“We have people ordering more often now that there are Minion boxes,” Hall said. “Customers want to see if they’ll receive a Minion box.”
From packaging, boxes are carried on conveyor belts to stations where they will be scanned and receive labels for shipment. Then, it’s onto a truck and—eventually—your home.