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Behind the scenes at Amazon

 

I had the fantastic opportunity this week to tour the Amazon Fulfillment Centre in Peterborough with fellow committee representatives from the Ely, Peterborough and Cambridge Chambers of Commerce.

Amazon has recently become a member of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce and invited businesses in for an exclusive tour of their facilities. And it was an impressive sight at 500,000 square metres of efficiency. That’s equivalent to the size of six football pitches.

Due to security reasons we weren’t allowed to take photos, but we gained a huge insight into their highly streamlined processes: from the moment a customer orders online through to final shipping.  Staff numbers average at around 2800 with up to 4000 employed over the Christmas period and the Fulfillment Centre handling millions of shipments in from suppliers and traders, and millions of packages despatched out each week to customers.

And it’s an eye-popping sight. Workers picking the stock for your order are cleverly routed by computer via their hand held scanning devices to give them the most time and distance-efficient route around the product aisles, conveyor belts whizz picked items around the facilities to be sorted into shipments, more conveyors carry customer shipments to dozens of packing stations and lorries are despatched out across the network every few minutes.

It was also refreshing to learn and see for ourselves the efforts Amazon puts into internal communications and staff engagement with an array of incentives including “Beat the Manager” hour (where Senior Management come down to the shop floor to set a speed time for picking for workers to beat and win prizes), employee forums, staff events and Amazon’s investment into training courses for all staff and links with the wider community.

A fascinating day out. Thank you very much indeed to Hamish, Senior Operations, and Neil, Community Relations, for taking the time out to have us and answer all our many questions.

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