By Briana Vannozzi
Here’s what happens after you click “buy” on your Amazon purchase — 14 miles of conveyer belts help sort and package products with the help of a part-robot part-human team.
“Our systems know exactly which item to pick and how quickly to get it to you. And that’s what we do next. We travel on our over 14 miles of conveyers up to our pack stations and then our packages are all sorted by customer by ship destination out to you,” said Amazon Director of Operations in Robbinsville Tim Hall.
The 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center in Robbinsville is a maze of brightly colored sorting buckets and shelves. More than 2,500 employees have been hired since it unofficially opened last July.
“The goals are actually above where we believed we would be at this point,” Hall said.
It’s called an eighth generation facility, because of the advanced technology. Bright orange robots — Amazon officials refer to them as “NFL linemen” — lift up to 750 pounds.
“They make our associates more efficient. They actually do the walking for our associates. They bring the shelves to them, take the shelves away. Our associates love interacting with them,” Hall said.
“We wanted to get young men and women from inner city of Trenton and give them an easier opportunity to come out here and get jobs, which they have. They can take one bus from the city of Trenton. We have a dedicated ZLine that comes right out here to the corporate center, which is free, and they can just hop on and hop off,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.
Amazon is notoriously known for its secrecy, but today officials divulged on their efficiency.
“And you can see the items as you look down, multiple items. You could have a phone case next to a book next to a slinky. And the reason we receive them randomly is because we stow them randomly. You never know what a customer is going to order,” Hall said.
It takes a small army of both employees and computers to process and sort the items because fulfillment centers like this are shipping packages 24 hours a day.
“We can hit about 40 percent of the nation within a 10-hour car or truck drive so it’s a great location to move product,” said Labor Commissioner Harold Wirths.
“Companies go to states for two reasons. First the numbers have to work. In this case there were no state tax incentives involved in this program, but the numbers worked in a different way.” said Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Amazon will also expand to Carteret, opening a center there with about 800 employees. And as they reminded everyone today, yes they’re hiring.