Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced on Tuesday that it has begun construction on its first fulfillment center in Australia equipped with robots to improve the efficiency of processing online orders.
The 2-million square-foot facility, which will house up to 11 million items and create more than 1,500 jobs, is Amazon’s second fulfillment center in western Sydney. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2021.
Amazon Australia launched in December 2017 and now has three fulfillment centers, including in Melbourne and Perth. A fourth facility in Brisbane is scheduled to open late this year. The new robotics facility more than doubles its current footprint in the country.
Amazon said 10,000 small- and medium-sized businesses that use Amazon’s fulfillment service will benefit from the additional capacity.
Amazon Robotics technology will be used to move shelves to employees to reduce picking time for orders. The electronic-retailer operates more than 175 fulfillment centers worldwide, 50 of them with robotics capability, and more than 40 sort centers.
Amazon deploys several types of robots at its automated fulfillment centers. Palletizers have robotic arms with grips that identify and grab totes from conveyor belts and stack them on pallets for shipping or stowing. Another type of robotic arm lifts pallets of inventory to different levels or places them on drive units to be carried to their next destination. The drive unit is a robot that transports packages around facilities. Amazon says it has 100,000 drive units in locations around the world as well as six robotic stowing machines and 30 palletizers.
Amazon started using robotics after its 2012 acquisition of Boston-based Kiva Systems, since renamed Amazon Robotics. The company says robots make it possible to store 40% more inventory, making it easier to fulfill Prime orders on time since it’s less likely for an item to run out.
Click here for more FreightWaves stories by Eric Kulisch.