As reported in the news of the OC Register, Amazon ramps up SoCal high-tech warehouses – Amazon announced they will be opening a fourth fulfillment center in California. The new warehouse is expected to open next year in Moreno Valley.
Amazon.com offered a glimpse inside its San Bernardino fulfillment center on Tuesday and announced it would open a fourth such California facility, in Moreno Valley, next year.
The high-tech distribution centers are key to Amazon’s plan to speed up its delivery of all sorts of goods and step up the pressure on traditional retailers. Earlier this year, Amazon made headlines for launching AmazonFresh same-day grocery delivery in Los Angeles and select areas of Orange County. The service will likely be expanded to more areas.
The 950,000-square-foot San Bernardino warehouse opened a year ago on redeveloped Air Force land. Roughly the size of 25 football fields, it contains millions of consumer products. In the stocking areas, diapers, bike locks, bottles of green tea and Kindle e-readers sit side-by-side on miles of shelves, resembling oddly shaped books in a library.
Staffed 24/7, the facility has fewer employees than a typical distribution center, given the volume of boxes zipping around on conveyer belts that wind around the building like life-size toy train tracks.
Employees mostly pick and pack merchandise. There are no robots at the facility, but once things are boxed up, the process is highly automated.
The San Bernardino warehouse has added 1,400 much-needed jobs. The region has unemployment rates above 10 percent and the city filed for bankruptcy last year. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, recently said it will hire 70,000 seasonal workers across all its fulfillment centers, including more than 2,000 in San Bernardino.
“This facility is here, it’s expanding, and it’s great that our laws are accommodating this kind of business. This has been a difficult area of California,” said Gov. Jerry Brown, who attended the event with other elected officials, including San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris, State Sens. Norma Torres and Bill Emmerson, and Assemblyman Mike Morrell.
The new 1.2-million-square-foot Moreno Valley fulfillment center announced Tuesday will be less than 20 miles away and will employ 1,000 full-time workers.
Amazon, which recently announced a small loss on third-quarter revenues of $17.09 billion, has boasted it offers employees wages that are 30 percent above the industry average. Morrell said those jobs in turn generate even more employment in retail and construction – “that’s like 2,800 jobs, really,” he said.
Amazon has been criticized in some newspaper and other media reports for the grueling and impersonal nature of its warehouse jobs. Mike Roth, vice president of Amazon’s North American operations, said that all fulfillment centers have air conditioning and skylights, amenities that are unusual in many retail distribution centers.
The San Bernardino fulfillment center is one of 13 such facilities that Amazon opened in the past four years to keep up with demand. The company said that on the peak shopping day last year, customers around the world ordered 306 items a second.
“We’re happy with customer demand we’re seeing, and the opportunity to expand in California is the right thing for us to do at this time,” Roth said. “The closer the center, the faster the shipping method, but this is mainly to keep up with demand.”
Last year, Amazon struck a deal with the state of California to build warehousing and distribution centers in the state that would employ 10,000 full-time workers and 25,000 seasonal ones by December 2015. In return, the company got a one-year delay in the collection of sales tax for in-state customers, starting last fall.
The company also operates fulfillment centers in Tracy and Patterson in Northern California.