Amazon is poised for momentous growth during these tough times of coronavirus. The global giant of the e-commerce industry has announced plans to build its first and largest robotic fulfillment center in Australia.
Aimed to be first of its kind and also the largest, the new storage and distribution center will measure roughly 200,000 square meters and is to be built in Kemps Creek in Western Sydney, which according to Amazon, is equivalent to the land size of Taronga Zoo or 22 rugby fields, and be able to store up to 11 million items.
Amazon Australia Director of Operations Craig Fuller said, “The Amazon robotics fulfillment center will more than double our operational footprint in Australia, enhance efficiency and safety for our associates while ultimately providing customers with a wider selection and faster delivery. We look forward to creating more than 1,500 jobs, the majority of which are permanent full-time jobs, with the opportunity to work alongside advanced robotics to deliver the ultimate in service for customers.”
Amazon further added that this would be the first center in the southern hemisphere where the company’s “latest robotics systems” are deployed. The building of this fulfillment center, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2021, will be in addition to the 50-plus robotic fulfillment center Amazon has around the world.
This will bring the total number of Amazon fulfillment centers in Australia to five. Amazon had opened its first fulfillment center in Melbourne nearly three years back in Dec 2017. This was subsequently followed by the opening of centers in Sydney and Perth in 2018 and 2019 Earlier this month, Amazon had announced it would be adding another of its fulfillment warehouse in Brisbane.
However, controversies are not too far away either as a recent report by the ABC identified how employees of Amazon Australia are constantly being monitored and time tables rigidly followed to fulfill orders, with one describing the working conditions as being so pressurized that it made them feel “dehumanised”.
“I feel like they resent the fact that I’m not a robot and that I’m made of flesh and bone,” the person identified as Amazonian is supposed to have said.
At the same time, David Gallagher, who is on workers’ compensation, was denied unpaid leave twice over a course of a month by Amazon, as reported by ZDNet’s sister publication, CNET. He was subsequently granted leave only once CNET had contacted Amazon.
Last year, the company refuted claims that its warehouses would be fully automated any time soon. Its fulfillment director Scott Anderson told reporters that there was a “misconception” that the company would be able to run fully robotic warehouses in the near time.
“In the current form, the technology is very limited,” Anderson said. “The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need.”