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.
Tuesday marked the company’s grand opening for the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Patterson which 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.
The Patterson facility handles larger products than its neighboring site in Tracy, which also held its grand opening ceremony Tuesday morning. While the Patterson site has been open for more than a year, the ceremony afforded the company and its employees an official celebration complete with the presence of local dignitaries like Mayor Luis Molina, State Assembly member Adam Gray, and Director Kish Rajan of Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Economic Development.
“This is the beginning of us moving in a really positive direction,” said Gray, noting that Amazon has “set a positive example for part of the state that needs good stories and positive examples.”
Rajan said California leads the nation in economic output largely due in part to the “breadth and depth of economic sectors of all kinds.” With companies like Amazon that have contributed thousands of jobs to the state’s economy, Amazon has given its employees “upward mobility,” but also directly contributed to the community of Patterson.
“I always tell people, Patterson hasn’t moved geographically. It’s been in the same location,” said Molina. What has changed is “the attitude and vision and leadership, deciding to come together, deciding what’s right for our community. And not just the Patterson community, but the county community and the region. We all benefit.”