TRACY (KPIX 5) — It’s estimated that 68 million shoppers this year will have ordered items online on Cyber Monday. And a peek inside Amazon’s state-of-the-art shipping center in Tracy gives a glimpse of how so many products can be delivered so quickly.
“Cyber Monday is one our biggest days of the year. It’s really our Super Bowl here at Amazon,” said Amazon public relations manager Molly Wade.
Going by the name “Oak 4,” the fulfillment center in Tracy is immense, more than one million square feet in size.
“That’s the size of 28 football fields,” Wade said. “There’s 20 miles of conveyor belt rolling around in here and we’ve got more than 4,000 full-time associates working this holiday season.”
The process begins in the “stowing” area, a huge space near the unloading dock where tens of millions of products are shipped in and stored.
The moment a customer places an order, the fulfillment center springs to life. Products are placed in robotic carriers and sent to the “picking station.” As the robots dance in and out, a human “picker” pulls out the ordered items, placing them in bins that are whisked away on conveyor belts to an area where they are boxed up for shipping.
“Once it’s all taped up and ready to go, it goes through our ‘slam’ machine, which is where it gets its label, and then it’s off to shipping,” Wade explained.
Using bar codes and high speed scanners, the packages are pushed and shoved along the correct path until they reach the right conveyor belt that feeds them into the back of a truck to begin the journey to home delivery.
“If everything goes right and your item happens to be right in front and the box is ready to go and the truck is here, it could definitely happen in a matter of minutes.” Wade said.
As big as the Tracy fulfillment center is, there are actually seven of them in the Central Valley alone. And Amazon operates 175 of them worldwide. But even with the extreme efficiency of their system, Amazon is still looking for ways to make the process even quicker. Because when it comes to cyber shopping, tomorrow may not be soon enough.
Or as Wade puts it, “It doesn’t matter how fast we get, it’ll never be fast enough. And that’s what we love about our customers.”
Like it or not, it is the future of shopping and fast delivery is the reason Cyber Monday has become so popular.