Amazon to build its first robotics fulfilment centre in Australia

Amazon Australia has announced plans to open its first robotics fulfilment centre in Western Sydney. The facility will be the same size as Taronga Zoo and house up to 11 million items, doubling the e-commerce giant’s footprint in Australia.

The upcoming building will be Amazon’s second fulfilment centre (FC) in Western Sydney, increasing its capacity to fulfil customer orders as the business continues to expand in Australia.

Targeted for building completion in late 2021, the new FC will be located at Goodman’s Oakdale West Industrial Estate and be equipped with the most advanced Amazon Robotics technology.

The robotic technology will help speed order processing time by moving shelves to employees, thereby reducing the time and efforts taken to stow items for sale or pick them for new customer orders and creating a more pleasant work environment.

They also save space, allowing for 50 per cent more items to be stowed per square metre.

The fulfilment centre will have a total floor area of around 200,000 square metres across four levels – around the same land size as Taronga Zoo or 22 rugby fields.

Construction has already begun on the Amazon Robotics FC which is well located for Western Sydney workers and for the transportation and delivery of customer orders at the intersection of Penrith, Blacktown and Parramatta.

Amazon to double its footprint in Australia 

Craig Fuller, Director of Operations, Amazon Australia said the Amazon Robotics fulfilment centre will more than double its operational footprint in Australia, enhance efficiency and safety for its associates while ultimately providing customers with wider selection and faster delivery.

“This investment will also benefit the 10,000 plus small & medium sized businesses who utilise Fulfilment By Amazon to seamlessly service customers across the country,” he said.

Amazon Robotics will offer a diverse range of more than 1,500 job opportunities in a high-tech, industry-leading workplace ranging from IT, HR and robotics professionals, to associates who will work collaboratively with robots, to pick, pack and ship smaller items such as books, beauty products, electronics and toys to customers.

The Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian said Amazon’s decision to locate its first robotic centre in the Southern Hemisphere  in Western Sydney is another great example about what the future holds.

First robotics fulfilment centre for Amazon Australia 

The overall site is 150,000 sqm and the lease of the centre was facilitated by CBRE’s Industrial & Logistics business.

Globally, Amazon has more than 175 fulfillment centres and more than 40 sort centres.

The e-commerce giant has opened more than 50 Amazon Robotic FCs around the world, and the Western Sydney FC marks the first one for Australia.

Amazon currently uses the help of more than 200,000 robotic drive units and more than 1,000 Robotic Tech Vests have been activated in FCs around the world.

Goodman Group General Manager Jason Little said Goodman’s strategy is to provide its customers with high quality properties in strategic locations.

“This new Amazon robotics fulfilment centre is a perfect example of this,” he said.

“The site is close to a large consumer population, transport links and the future Western Sydney International airport, making it accessible for faster deliveries both now and in the future.”

1,500 new industry jobs 

Once up and running, the FC will create more than 1,500 jobs in addition to 700 construction jobs.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said Amazon’s decision was a vote of confidence in the NSW economy.

“The project will contribute to local workforce development and provide skilled employment in areas like robotics, logistics and supply chain. It will also help build our local e-commerce sector, giving small and medium sized businesses access to Amazon’s packing, shipping, customer service and returns capabilities, along with easier access to millions of customers across Australia and the world,” Stuart said.

Amazon has worked with Goodman Group and its JV partner Brickworks to secure the site and Goodman is managing the construction of the facility which will require 13,500 tonnes of Australian steel, 3,000 tonnes more than the steel used in ANZ Stadium.

Sal Milici, Head of Border and Biosecurity at Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) said Amazon Australia is a FTA member and the challenge ahead will be whether border agencies can modernise processes in time to keep pace with this change in trade.

“E-commerce is clearly booming with the likes of Amazon and other marketplaces facilitating avenues for Australian businesses to access broader domestic and international markets. From a consumer perspective, the speed of change has rapidly escalated with COVID-19 creating a much higher demand for last-mile deliveries to the home,” Sal said.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) said that its Associate Member (Amazon Australia) announcement of its new FC is a further display of the confidence major freight and logistics companies have about the future, and the industry’s commitment to creating jobs for Australians during a very challenging economic period

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of efficient, safe and resilient supply chain operations in Australia, and clearly the industry is seeking to maximise the opportunities presented by robotics and automated technology to deliver greater reliability for its customers,” ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said.

Kirk said this will also require a very different skill set among the sector’s future workforce going forward.

“People will need to be comfortable operating sophisticated IT systems and equipment, in vehicles and in distribution centres and terminals, as customers demand greater visibility over freight as it moves through the supply chain. The influence of automation will also be felt, and those skilled in the operation and maintenance of robotics will be highly sought.”

Kirk noted that the announcement comes just a week after Qube Holdings and Woolworths Group announced they were investing in two new state-of-the-art distribution centres in Western Sydney, and is clear confirmation that this vital economic region will be home of some of the nation’s most technologically advanced logistics facilities in the near future.

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