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Amazon to Build First Robotic Warehouse in Australia; Retail Stores Gear Up for Robots

Amazon will build its first robotic and largest fulfillment center in Australia, which is the same size as 22 rugby fields.

According to ZDNET, the e-commerce giant will build its 200,000 square meters storage and distribution center at Kemps Creek in western Sydney, which is about the size of 22 rugby fields or the Taronga Zoo. Amazon says it will be able to store up to 11 million items.

Amazon also said it would be the first center where the “latest robotics systems” will be deployed as expected to operate by the end of 2021.

“The Amazon robotics fulfillment center will more than double our operational footprint in Australia, enhance efficiency and safety for our associates,” said Amazon Australia director of operations Craig Fuller adding that it will provide customers with a larger selection and faster delivery.

Fuller also said the company expects to create more than 1,500 posts, mostly permanent full-time jobs. These will also give the opportunity to work with “advanced robotics to deliver the ultimate in service for customers.”

The new fulfillment center will be a great addition to Amazon’s more than 50 robotic fulfillment centers worldwide. 

Currently, Amazon has four centers in Australia, the first of which opened in Melbourne in December 2017, followed by that in Sydney in 2018, and Perth in 2019. Amazon recently announced that it will open another warehouse in Brisbane.

The company denied allegations that it will fully automate its warehouses last year. Amazon robotics fulfillment director Scott Anderson said that there was just a “misconception” as they currently have limited technology.

“The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need,” said Anderson.

Aside from Amazon, Ford, and other giant companies are now using robotics in fulfilling various tasks in their warehouses.

As shown at the National Retail Federation’s 2020 Big Show in New York, various companies show off their latest robots that work alongside retail employees and around customers. While Ford has been using robots in its assembly lines, retail stores are now utilizing bots to do simple tasks like putting price tags, restocking shelves, and keeping the stores clean.

“Retailers are using robots to do all types of things. Everything from floor cleaning to material handling and now shelf analytics,” said Josh Baylin, who works with Brain Corp, a robotics automation company. 

Baylin also said they are helping stores to perform better and gain more revenue. “We help our partners produce, deploy, scale and support their robotic deployments in all different environments, like retail, airports, and malls,” added Baylin.

Badger Technologies CEO Tim Rowland said during the Big Show that his company works on robots that can be utilized in the entire supply chain, including notifying the store when it runs out of a certain product.

Aside from the numerous simple tasks robots could handle, Rowland is looking forward to deploying them in actual retail conditions. 

“Given enough time, you can train a machine to look at anything. Even in the short term, with some human inspection, I can check bay doors or fire extinguishers or smoke or glass in certain areas. It’s a perfect application,” Rowland said. 

Read also: How Much Will It Be? Amazon Frontliners, Employees to Receive Bonuses

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