WESTBOROUGH – Imagine that you need something for, say, a big project the following day. You could go to a brick-and-mortar store and hope it has that something in stock. Or you can go to Amazon.com, order that item and request same-day delivery.
The online retail giant recently opened the region’s second same-day delivery performance center at 64 Otis St. – just down the street from Amazon’s robotics center.
According to Andrew Schwarz, the center’s site leader, this is the first center that was custom built to handle both fulfillment and delivery.
“It’s one of a kind in the network,” he said. “It bridges the gap between fulfillment and delivery.”
Opened on Nov. 29, the facility currently has a total of 200 full- and part-time employees across five shifts. Schwarz said the facility is not running at full capacity; he wanted to make sure the site was running with “a high level of quality.”
Inside this 200,000-square-foot facility, everything – the conveyors, docks, storage units, robotic pods – is large and designed to deliver the goods quickly and efficiently.
“Without speed, without technology, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Schwarz, who’s been with Amazon for about nine years.
Caitlin McLaughlin, part of Amazon’s public relations team, pointed out that the equipment used to handle these items were all made in Massachusetts, including Amazon’s robotics facilities.
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The journey from item to delivery begins at the docking area, where items are shipped from Amazon’s distribution centers. The items are sorted and placed into bins, which are then stored onto large, long shelves.
Once an item is ordered, it’s sent to a station where it’s scanned and sorted manually.
“The item is now available for purchase and delivery,” said Schwarz.
The item is then placed into a slot on a storage bin; instead of being hauled manually from one spot to another, the bin moves automatically with the help of robotic pods underneath.
The next step – picking and packing. According to Schwarz, this process takes about 11 minutes, from locating the items to packaging. Employees use QR codes to identify the items, bring the proper pods to the packing area and place the items into slots for packaging.
After another verification, the items are packaged, labeled and sent to the delivery area.
The facility utilizes a 100% Flex dispatch system, said Schwarz. Many of these deliveries are handled by third-party Uber drivers.
These drivers, often working a three- or five-hour shift, could hit the road as early as 4 a.m., and as late as 10 p.m., depending on the customer’s request for delivery. Some of these drivers also work at the facility.
According to Schwarz, the facility can offer same-day delivery to much of Metrowest, including Framingham, Medway and Lexington.
He added that the process, from beginning to end, goes from two to six hours.
“It’s about delivery to internal and external customers to get what they need,” he said.