Robots are usually reserved for children’s imaginations, but at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Patterson they are very much a reality.
While Amazon has created its own robots to expedite laborious tasks usually reserved for employees, according to vice president of the company’s North American Operations Mike Roth, Amazon’s productivity is a result of a harmonious working relationship between the robots and the employees.
“All of this would mean nothing if you don’t have great associates to use the technology,” said Roth.
The Amazon Fulfillment Center in Patterson held its grand opening in January and the new facility has placed the town on the map as host to a rare eighth generation site, meaning it is the most advanced Amazon facility to date because of its Kiva Robotics.
Kiva Robotics function like large, orange discs upon which racks of items for shipping are stored. Without the help of humans, the sensory robots can change directions and offer up the rack with the most storage space to employees waiting to scan and organize the products.
Another proprietary creation of the company is what is referred to as the “Armazon,” a robot that lifts up to six tons of products on pallets as high as 24 feet with precision.
The collaboration between the Kiva Robotics and the hundreds of full-time employees at Amazon means tens of thousands of products leave the more than 1 million square foot facility each day as the company ships to 185 countries. As far as keeping the orders straight, “there are sophisticated algorithms to determine what ships and where,” said Roth, noting that items leave Patterson for regional and international deliveries.
While the new Amazon center has served as an economic driver in the region, it is also an educational powerhouse due to the company’s partnership with the Patterson Unified School District that is lead by Dan Fay, the general manager of the Patterson Fulfillment Center.
Fay is collaborating with Patterson High School where teachers and students are presently taking steps to build a warehouse on the campus that will serve the entire district.
“A couple of the teachers decided to create a business logistics track for their students,” explained Fay, who assisted in designing the building plans.
Inspired by Amazon’s new warehouse, the district warehouse and additional coursework will not only allow PHS students to learn the skills necessary to enter into a career in the logistics industry, but also potentially grant them necessary certifications when they graduate.
“This is one way I have been able to grow my personal relationship and the company’s relations with the community,” said Fay.
While the partnership affords Amazon a potential pool of employees that could seamlessly transition to a job at Amazon, the partnership is also a win for the students.
“Our students have really enjoyed working with Amazon. It’s a great partnership to provide career training opportunities for Patterson Unified students,” said Patterson Unified School District Superintendent Philip Alfano. “I think that our work with Amazon will open doors for our students and get them thinking and preparing for their careers.”