Inside Amazon Canada’s only robotic fulfillment centre on Cyber Monday

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WATCH ABOVE: Did you snag any Cyber Monday bargains? Perhaps they'll show up at your doorstep in a day or two. Global's Minna Rhee got a behind-the-scenes look of Amazon Canada's only robotic fulfillment centre in Brampton, Ontario – Nov 26, 2018

Ever wonder how some of your online orders arrive at the doorstep so quickly?

Global News got a tour inside Amazon’s only Canadian robotic fulfillment centre to find out how that happens on Cyber Monday.

First thing you notice is that it’s very loud – there’s a constant hum in the air – vibrations as crates and packages zigzag up, down and across four stories.

“We have 20 kilometres of conveyor belts running through the plant. This fulfillment centre is 850,000 square feet, the size of 40 NHL hockey rinks, ” said Marcelo Affonso, director of regional operations at Amazon Canada.

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They’ve hired an extra thousand people for the holiday season – and those humans work alongside robots all day long.

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“Robots help us increase the speed of delivery while also allowing us to increase inventory on the website by 50 per cent,” Affonso said, as he motioned towards the small orange bots that squeeze underneath skids that weight as much as 700 lbs.

“We call them drive units. Essentially, once this person finishes the stow process, the robots will then come to the station, raise the mobile shelving and they will be taken away for storage or sent over to the picker in the next step of the process.”

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“From Black Friday through Cyber Monday, this Brampton Fulfilment Centre is expected to ship 2.5 million items. That’s up substantially from the 1.5 million items we did during the same period last year” said Amazon Canada spokesperson Kaan Yalkin.

“A growing part of our business is small and medium sized businesses. There are tens of thousands of them to sell through Amazon”

Fine and costume jewelry designer Karolina Laura is part of the tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses that use Amazon to reach a wider audience.

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The Toronto entrepreneur has seen a massive uptick in sales since she began to use the platform 13 months ago.

“It costs me a little bit more, maybe five per cent more than the other websites I used to sell through – but I’ve gone from selling 30-50 items a month to 500 and sometimes even 1000 pieces of jewelry every month.”

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Over on the packing floor, the computer spits out precise length tape and tells the packer which box to use for each particular shipment.

“Next, we move to what’s called SLAM. This is for quality control. Every box is measured down to the gram to ensure what we’re sending you is what you ordered,” Affonso said.

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Address labels are spat out by air machines, and the parcels make their way down the conveyor system into the backs of trucks – to be delivered not just across Canada but around the world. And if you’re a Prime member, some of those packages could show up before the day is over.


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